Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first NH-90 Sea Lion naval multi-role helicopter to the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), with a further two to be delivered by the end of the year.
In total, 18 Sea Lions have been ordered for the German Navy, with deliveries expected to be completed in 2022. The selection of the Sea Lion as the successor to the Sea King was made in March 2013 and the corresponding contract was signed in June 2015.
“I am proud of our teams who worked hard to meet the ambitious delivery schedule of our customer, whose continuous support has also been key in making it happen,” said Wolfgang Schoder, CEO of Airbus Helicopters Deutschland. “During the summer, we successfully completed demonstration flights involving the German Navy and BAAINBw to verify the Sea Lion capabilities for search and rescue as well as special forces missions. I am confident that these helicopters will bring next-generation capabilities to the German Navy, and I’m committed to ensure the best level of support for the Sea Lion fleet.”
When deployed, 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.
Thanks to its multi-role capability and growth capability, the Sea Lion will not only replace the German Navy’s Sea King Mk41 fleet but significantly enhance its operational capabilities. The fly-by-wire flight controls of the NH90 Sea Lion reduce the crew’s workload thanks to its high precision and ease of use, which particularly come to the fore in over-water hovering, even in poor weather conditions. The German Navy has also recently 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.
Five nations are already using the NH90 in its naval NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) version and have completed more than 50,000 flying hours in SAR, humanitarian and military missions, with the 90 helicopters that have been delivered so far. The 399 helicopters that make up the worldwide NH90 fleet have already completed over 230,000 flying hours. This first Sea Lion is also the 400th NH90 helicopter to be delivered.