The NH90 Sea Lion helicopters Airbus is constructing for the German Navy entered the qualification phase as the second prototype helicopter performed its first flight in serial configuration on July 10.
The event marked the beginning of the helicopter’s qualification phase which will be undertaken together with the German Navy officials.
Once the qualification phase is finished, the navy will release the military type certificate to allow the first serial delivery, which is scheduled for end of 2019.
The NH90 helicopters will replace the old ‘Sea King’ which has been in service with the navy for 40 years. All 18 units ordered are expected to be in the fleet by 2022.
The basis for the German NH90 was the French navy-version of the support helicopter NH90 NFRS. The German version, however, is solely a replacement for the ‘Sea King’. It will be used for search and rescue missions, flight operations for combat support ships and for deploying boarding- and special forces. Integration of medical equipment will allow the Sea King to start performing land-based SAR operations from 2022.
In addition to performing land-based SAR missions, the NH90 Sea Lion is also intended to operate on Type 702 (Berlin class) combat support ships.