The Sea Lion is a specific German Navy variant of the NH-90 helicopter (by NH Industries) dubbed the “Naval Transport Helicopter (NTH)” variant. It replaced the Sea King in German Navy service from 2018 and is dedicated to search and rescue (SAR) missions. In addition, the Sea Lion, like the Sea King before it, is used to transport cargo or people. Its secondary roles includes reconnaissance and situational awareness thanks to its long-range sensors.
“I am very pleased that with the delivery of the 18th Sea Lion, the foundation has now been laid to successively exploit the great potential of this new weapon system,”
Axel H., Director of BAAINBw (The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology).
This 18th and final NH-90 NTH variant is expected to achieve FOC later this year.
“We are thus completing another major step in the modernization of naval aviation,” said the commander of Naval Aviation Command, Capt. Broder Nielsen, at the handover ceremony.
“Now all the helicopters are here, and now it’s a matter of accelerating training and developing the most modern, flexible maintenance concept possible with the aircraft delivered to us to quickly establish full operational readiness.”
Capt. Broder Nielsen, Commander of Naval Aviation Command
About German Navy’s NH90 NTH Sea Lion
Airbus Helicopters Deutschland delivered the first NH-90 Sea Lion to the German Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Utilisation of the German Armed Forces (BAAINBw) on October 24, 2019. Due to insufficient and incomplete technical documentation, the German Navy did not start initial flight operations. The German MoD announced that significant irregularities prevented safe action during operation of the helicopter on November 27, 2019. The German Navy eventually accepted its first NH90 Sea Lion in June 2020.
When fully operational, the NH90 Sea Lions will take on a wide range of roles including search and rescue (SAR), maritime reconnaissance, special forces as well as personnel and material transportation missions. In addition to its land-based use, the Sea Lion will also operate on Type 702 (Berlin class) combat support ships.
Besides the Sea Lion, the German Navy has also opted for the naval version of the NH90 to succeed its 22 Sea Lynx Mk 88A on-board helicopters that have been in service since 1981.
The German Navy is expected to receive a total of 31 ASW helicopters starting from 2025. They will be known as the “Sea Tiger” in German Navy service. Its special designation is “multi-role frigate helicopter” (MRFH). It will be the German version of the NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NH90 NFH) and closest to the French variant of the NFH (NFRS) known as Caïman. The NH90 NFH variant is already in service with the navies of Italy, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands, and has been selected by Qatar.