In early 2021, the BAN Lanvéoc-Poulmic (Britanny) will take delivery of four H160 choppers. The will replace the four aged Alouette III helicopters the 22S Squadron is using for pilots training, as well as drug enforcement and anti-piracy missions.
In this context, the French Ministry of Armed Forces is currently negotiating a contract for the provision of flight hours, with the contractor’s responsibility to make available three or four H160s, personnel and equipment for ground-based technical support. The future contractor will then need specific support aera separated from the other maintenance services working at the BAN Lanvéoc-Poulmic. « A long-term maintenance area for these four outsourced helicopters must therefore be quickly built, » the document unveils.
Maintaining the H160 fleet will require a 2,000 m2 floor area, the tender says. The French MoD then plans the acquisition of two 1,000 m2 temporary warehouses, one for each pair of rotorcraft. Considering the tight delivery time, the assets will be purchased through the French Army’ SIMMT support service. Delivery of the warehouses is expected for December 2020.
Dubbed HIL « Guepard » by the French MoD, the H160 is a 6 tons class helicopter capable of speeds of 160 knots. It can carry 12 passengers at distances of up to 120 nautical miles. According to Airbus Helicopters, the H160 features the noise-reducing and performance-enhancing “Blue Edge” main rotor designed to increase the lift capacity by 100 kg and lower noise signature by 50% (3 dB).
The French MoD HIL (for Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger) program calls for the procurement of 169 Guepard helicopters for the French Army, Air Force and Navy. It is set to replace 5 types of helicopters currently in services with the 3 French military services: the Gazelle of the army (Armée de terre), the Fennec of the air force (Armée de l’air) and the Alouette III, Dauphin and Panther of the navy (Marine nationale).