|A NHI NH90 of the German Army|
|Type||Medium transport/utility helicopter|
|Maiden flight||18 December 1995|
|Primary users||German Armed Forces|
Italian Armed Forces
Australian Defence Force
|Number built||5 delivered|
|Unit cost||16,000,000 €|
The NHI NH90 is a medium sized, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter manufactured by NHIndustries, a company established by Agusta, Eurocopter and Stork Fokker Aerospace. The NH90, which can be flown by a single pilot, is designed to operate by night and day and in poor weather. It has been ordered by several nations and is expected to enter service from 2007.
Design and development
On 1 September 1992, NH Industries signed a NH90 design-and-development contract with NAHEMA (NATO Helicopter Management Agency). This agency represented the four participating nations: Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands. Portugal joined the agency on 21 June 2001. The design work started in 1993, with the first prototype, the PT1, making its first flight on 18 December 1995. A second prototype, the PT2, first flew on 19 March 1997 and the third prototype, the PT3, on 27 November 1998.
The NH90 program is handled by NH Industries while production shares of the 3 Partner Companies involved are 32.00% for AgustaWestland – Italy, 62.50% for Eurocopter – Germany & France, and 5.50% for Fokker Aerospace - The Netherlands.
The NH90 has been developed into two main variants: the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH), however, many of the customer countries have requested special solutions for their NH90s. The program had some technical and funding problems in the beginning of the 1990s, but a large production order for 298 helicopters was launched on 30 June 2000 by the partner countries. This soon followed by a series of orders from Europe and Asia/Australia.
In 2001, three Nordic countries signed purchase orders, Sweden placed an order for 25 helicopters, Finland for 20 helicopters, and Norway for 24 helicopters. On 29 August 2003, Greece ordered 34 NH90s with another 14 in option. In 2005 Australia ordered 12. The number was revised In June 2006 when Australia announced plans to order at least 34 more NH90s, taking their total order to 46. In Australian service, the NH90 will be known as the MRH 90, where MRH stands for Multi Role Helicopter. In July, 2006, the Saudi Government signed a contract to purchase a total of 142 helicopters, including 64 NH90, 20 Eurocopter Cougar, 42 Eurocopter Fennec, 4 Eurocopter Panther naval, and 12 Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters.  In July 2006, the New Zealand Government signed a contract to purchase 8 NH90s (plus 1 extra for spares) to replace their Air Force's fleet of Iroquois.
The program ran into a 2 year production delay due to the complicated type approval procedure, and the first NH90s were delivered by late 2006 to the German Army. These were followed by Italian and Finnish helicopters in 2007. Later during 2007, the Italian and French navies started to receive their NFH versions and the first Swedish and Norwegian NH90s were also delivered.
The NH90 was initially intended to be produced at 3 main assembly lines; Cascina Costa in Italy for AgustaWestland, Marignane in France and Donauwörth in Germany for Eurocopter. However, the Nordic and Australian contracts stipulated production locally (the Nordic ones at Patria in Finland and the Australian ones in Brisbane).
On June 20 2007, during the Paris Air Show 2007, Belgium signed the contract for its 10 NH90 (4 NFH, 4TTH + 2 options) and also became the 6th nation to join NAHEMA, furthermore, on the same day, the German Army and the Luftwaffe placed an order for 42 additional NH90s.
NFH: NATO Frigate Helicopter
The primary role of the NFH version is autonomous anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface unit warfare (ASuW), mainly from naval ships. These aircraft are equipped for day and night, adverse weather and severe ship motion operations.
TTH: Tactical Transport Helicopter
The primary role of the TTH version is the transport of 20 troops or more than 2,500 kg of cargo, heliborne operations and search & rescue. It can quickly be adapted to MEDEVAC/CASEVAC missions by fitting up to 12 stretchers or cargo delivery capability
Additional roles include medical evacuation (12 stretchers), special operations, electronic warfare, airborne command post, parachuting, VIP transport and flight training.
The abbreviation TTT (Tactical Troop Transport) is used for Finnish and Swedish TTHs in some contexts.
The current NH90 order book is as follows:
- 10: 4 NFH + 4 TTH + 2 TTH options (delivery expected 2011)
- 20 TTH (SAR)
- German Army: 80 TTH
- German Air Force: 42 TTH + (12 options)
- German Navy: (30 NFH are still to be ordered)
- 16 TTH, 4 TTH (Special Operations) + 14 TTH (in option)
- Italian Army: 60 TTH
- Italian Navy: 46 NFH, 10 TTH
- Italian Air Force: 1 TTH/CSAR (in option)
- 6 NFH (ASW), 8 NFH (Coast Guard)
- 20 TTH models with an enhanced power plant ordered by the Royal Air Force of Oman for tactical transport operations and search & rescue operations. They are expected to be delivered in 2008.
- 64 (announced July 2006)
- Total of 45 on order with requirements for up to 100. First delivery planned for 2010. Spain will have a final assembly line operational at Albacete.
- Spanish Army: TTH
- Spanish Air Force: TTH/CSAR
- Spanish Navy: NFH/TTH/CSAR
- 13 TTH (SAR), 5 NFH (ASW)
The unit prices were estimated in 2001 as ranging from 19 million Euros for the tactical transport helicopter (TTH) to 30 million Euros for the NATO frigate helicopter (NFH). Italy signed a Euro 3.2 billions contract from 2000 to 2018 for their order of 116 + 1 (in option) NH90s.
- Crew: 2 pilots
- Capacity: 20 troops/12 stretchers
- Length: 16.13 m (52 ft 11 in)
- Rotor diameter: 16.30 m (53 ft 5¾ in)
- Height: 5.23 m (17 ft 2 in)
- Empty weight: 5,400 kg (11,900 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 10,600 kg (23,370 lb)
- Powerplant: 2× Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-01/9 turboshafts, 1,662 kW (2,230 shp) each
- Powerplant: 2× General Electric T700-T6E turboshafts, 1,577 kW (2,115 shp) each
- Maximum speed: 300 km/h (162 knots, 186 mph)
- Range: 800 km (TTH); 1,000 km (NFH) ()
- Service ceiling: 2,960 m ()
- Rate of climb: 480 m/min ()
Missiles: anti-submarine and/or Air to surface missiles (NFH version)
- Sydney Morning Herald (2006-06-19). Defence to spend $2b more on choppers. Retrieved on 2006-06-19.
- NHIndustries (2005-02-06). AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT ORDERS 12 NH90 HELICOPTERS.
- Nahema signs contract for 10 NH90 helicopters for Belgium (19 July 2007). Retrieved on 12 September 2007.
- Air Force gets new helicopter fleet (31 July 2006). Retrieved on 19 April 2007.
- "Canbird Economics", Aviation Week & Space Technology, December 4 2006.
- Eurocopter - First NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter For Oman Performed Maiden Flight At Eurocopter In Marignane
- "News Breaks", Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 1 2007.
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