The German Navy’s NH90 Sea Lion naval multi-role helicopter made its maiden flight at Airbus Helicopters’ facility in Donauwörth on December 8.
The NHIndustries-built helicopters will replace the old ‘Sea King’ which has been in service with the navy for 40 years.
The navy is set to start receiving first helicopters in the second half of 2019 with all 18 units expected to be in the fleet by 2022.
The NH90 Sea Lion has an increased number of sensors and improved navigation and communications equipment, which means that this military helicopter will also be able to operate in civil air space. The military friend/foe identification has also been updated to the latest standards.
“We need to keep to a tight schedule if we are to replace the Sea King in time. This requires all those participating in the project to coordinate quickly and efficiently to achieve this,” explained Ralph Herzog, Director in the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).
“By using an existing NH90 model as the basis for the Sea Lion and adding the required additional functionalities to it, we have been able to significantly reduce the delivery process. This model is also configured not only to be an adequate replacement for the Sea King but is designed so that it can be adapted to future roles.”
According to Airbus Helicopters, the second NH90 Sea Lion awaiting qualification testing is currently at the final assembly stage and series production at Donauwörth will commence in the summer of 2017.
In addition to its land-based use in SAR missions, the NH90 Sea Lion is also intended to operate on Type 702 (Berlin class) combat support ships.