The Qatar Emiri Air Force’s NH90 helicopter program marked a major milestone last week with first flights performed in Italy and France. The first NH90 NATO frigate helicopter (NFH), assembled at Leonardo’s Venice Tessera facility, and the first tactical troop transport (TTH) over-land aircraft, assembled at Airbus Helicopters’ Marignane site, took to the air on 15th and 18th of December respectively. The flights allowed crews to evaluate general handling and basic systems and the helicopters performed as expected.
Qatar’s NH90 program includes 16 NH90 TTHs for land operations, 12 NH90 NFHs for naval missions, a comprehensive support, maintenance & training services package and associated infrastructure. The program has the potential to be extended in the future with the addition of 6 + 6 units in a mixture of TTH and NFH variants. Leonardo is prime contractor for the overall program and is also responsible for the final assembly and delivery of the 12 NH90 NFH helicopters from its Venice Tessera facility.
The company is also supplying simulators, training aids and an extensive maintenance support and training services package for aircrews and maintenance technicians. Leonardo is providing, contributing to or supporting the integration of various avionics and sensor payloads, including the Leonardo LEOSS-T HD electro-optical system, HD Mission Video Recorder, Automatic Identification System, Tactical video link and Full HD display for cabin consoles. Airbus Helicopters is responsible for carrying out the final assembly of the 16 NH90 TTH aircraft. Acceptance of the first batch of NH90s by the Qatar Emiri Air Force is scheduled to start before the end of 2021, with the last helicopter planned to be delivered in 2025.
Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters MD, said “We’re extremely pleased to celebrate this important achievement as we continue to work to deliver this program. The NH90 is set to provide the Qatar Ministry of Defense, an important and longstanding customer, with outstanding operational capabilities suitable for a range of missions. Together with our industrial partners, we’re committed to completing and introducing this essential defense and security enabler for our customer.”
The largest military helicopter program in Europe, the NH90 is the optimal choice for modernoperations thanks to its fully composite airframe with a large cabin, its excellent power-to-weightratio and its wide range of role equipment. It features a quadruplex fly-by-wire flight control systemfor reduced pilot workload and enhanced flight handling characteristics. The NH90 is available intwo main variants: one specified for naval operations, the NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter)and the TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) for land based operations. As of today, around 430NH90 helicopters, a mixture of both variants, are in service worldwide. Aircraft on operations havelogged over 270,000 flight hours in a wide range of weather and environmental conditions, overland and sea.
NHIndustries is the largest rotorcraft Joint Venture in European history and it is responsible forthe design, manufacture and support of the NH90 helicopter, one of the leaders in the latest generation of military helicopter. The Company takes the best from European Rotorcraftand Defense Industry, being owned by Airbus Helicopters (62.5%), Leonardo (32%) and GKNFokker (5.5%). Each company has aerospace pedigree and brings the top of its skills andexpertise to the end product.
Leonardo, a global high-technology company, is among the top ten world players in Aerospace, Defense and Security and Italy’s main industrial company. Organized into five business divisions, Leonardo has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland and the USA, where it also operates through subsidiaries such as Leonardo DRS (defense electronics), and joint ventures and partnerships: ATR, MBDA, Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space and Avio.
Leonardo competes in the most important international markets by leveraging its areas of technological and product leadership (Helicopters, Aircraft, Aerostructures, Electronics, Cyber Security and Space).
In 2019 Leonardo recorded consolidated revenues of €13.8 billion and invested €1.5 billion in Research and Development.