PARIS ― The French Armed Forces Ministry displayed a nose cone of the NH90 helicopter earmarked for the special forces at the Eurosatory trade show, signalling the approval of funds needed to equip the elite units with their own fleet of the tactical transport aircraft.
The multiyear military budget law backs up “a target” of acquiring 10 NH90s for the special forces in two batches, with a first delivery in 2025, a spokesman for the procurement office told Defense News on June 13.
That nose cone displays for the first time a new Safran airborne sensor, dubbed EuroFl’Eye, which was developed for the special forces and will be fitted on their NH90 fleet.
That sensor is designed to give pilots a very wide field of view of 240 degrees azimuth, 90 degrees elevation on infrared and low-light TV cameras. The sensor, expected to enter the open market in two or three years, could be retrofitted on other NH90 helicopters in a midlife upgrade, a Safran executive said June 11.
Other equipment on display for the special forces’ NH90 included a digital version of the Thales TopOwl helmet-mounted sight as well as the Safran Euroflir 410 new-generation, electro-optronic pod.
Orders for the equipment are expected to be placed next year, now that the 2019-2025 defense budget law has been adopted.
A first batch of six special forces NH90s is due to be delivered in 2025, with the remaining units to be shipped in the following year.
The special forces need their own fleet of NH90, upgraded and adapted to their standard, Adm. Laurent Isnard told the Defence Committee of the lower house National Assembly on Dec. 19. Isnard, head of the French special forces, said the special operations units also required a strengthening of their fleet of Tiger attack helicopters.