The second prototype of the NH-90 Sea Lion commissioned by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) lifted off from the Donauwörth site for its maiden flight on 24 November 2017.
The first prototype of the NH-90 “Sea Lion” went in flight the December 8, 2016. This new helicopter will replace the Sea King helicopters still in service in the German Navy from 2019, after a test phase before the initial deliveries. Meanwhile, German Nay is intensely preparing for the acceptance of new helicopters with technical and flight crew already in training and with infrastructure modifications at the Nordholz naval base.
The NH-90 Sea Lion helicopter will take over a number of missions including search and rescue (SAR), maritime reconnaissance, support for special forces as well as the transport of staff and materials. The German armed forces (Bundeswehr) have ordered 18 of these helicopters, with the latest scheduled for 2022. In addition to the Nordholz air base, the Sea Lion will also operate on Type 702 (Berlin class) fighting ships.
Thanks to its multi-role capabilities, the ability to operate in adverse weather conditions, the state-of-the-art technology, Sea Lion will not only replace the Sea King MK41 fleet of the Bundeswehr but will significantly improve the operational capabilities of the German Navy.
Airbus Helicopters is now entering a development testing phase of several months that will focus on avionics and software. Activities for the qualification of the delivery configuration will start over the course of 2018 once additional modifications have been made to the prototype.
Despite the very demanding timetable, the company is convinced that deliveries to the German Navy will start at the end of 2019. Final assembly of the first Sea Lion seriesproduction aircraft also started recently; this will run in parallel to the qualification.
The entire NH-90 fleet includes 303 previously delivered and operational helicopters that have already completed more than 120,000 flight hours.