As part of the country's Light Joint Helicopter programme, the French military has ordered 169 H160M Guepard helicopters from the international aerospace corporation Airbus.
Among the newly launched H160M Guepard helicopters, 21 will be supplied to the army, eight will be assigned to the navy, and one to the air force. Airbus will develop different H160M prototypes for the military.
The H160M aircraft, according to Airbus CEO Bruno Even, would give the French military new capabilities because it has been built and developed to withstand modern warfare.
"Having the French armed forces as our launch customer for the H160M is incredibly beneficial," Even said. The helicopter results from a 10-year partnership between the firm, and the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) and the armed forces.
H160M helicopters will be delivered starting in 2027.
Added Functionalities of H160M helicopters
H160M is the first of a new generation of military helicopters. It is a modular aircraft capable of performing a wide variety of missions, including commando infiltration, air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare. Functioning at a reduced operating cost and optimized for flight safety are two prime features of the helicopter.
The new design has improved stability, a fully integrated support system, automatic flight control, manoeuvrability and a low acoustic footprint. The helicopter also integrated a self-protection suite, a tactical data link system and a satellite communication system.
The H160M comes integrated with the HForce weapon system. It has various weapons, including MBDA ANL anti-ship missiles and pod-mounted guns.
Light Joint Helicopter Program
The French military designed the Light Joint Helicopter programme to replace five different helicopter fleets with a single fleet operated by all three branches of the French armed services.
The programme also aims to improve the fleet's overall condition while keeping it operational.
The government believes that by having only one model of the helicopter in service, the military forces will be able to save money on development because spare parts can be purchased in bulk.
The aircraft showed off its improved capabilities earlier this year in the Moroccan desert, demonstrating the effectiveness of its inlet barrier filtration system in preserving the engines from sand congestion.