PARIS — France has ordered Dec. 30 from NH Industries a further six NH90 transport helicopters from NH Industries for the Army, following a request from the Army Air Corps to boost for boosting the Barkhane mission in sub-Saharan Africa, the procurement office said.

"The Direction Générale de l'Armement signed an order Dec. 30 2015 for six NH90 tactical transport helicopters NH90 TTH Caïman from manufacturer NHI," the DGA said in a Jan. 7 statement.

"This strengthens significantly the Army's equipment and brings to 74 the number of NH90 TTH ordered, of which 44 will be delivered by 2019."

A DGA spokesman declined to give a value for the order.

The unit price of the Army version of the NH90 was €28.6 million euros (US $31 million), a French Senate report said in November 2012, based on the previous French order of 68 NH90s for the land force.

"This additional order for six NH90s, to be delivered in 2017-2019, confirms the essential role that new-generation multirole helicopters play in modern operations," Guillaume Faury, chairman of Airbus Helicopters, said in a Jan. 7 statement.

A planned order for the six helicopters was announced in September as part of the 2016 defense budget.

Army Gen. Olivier Gourlez de la Motte, chief of the Army Air Corps, in January last year told journalists last January that the service sought to add a further 10 helicopters to strengthen the helicopter force in the Barkhane operation. Those aircraft would be a mix of attack and transport helicopters, reinforcing about a dozen helicopters in the Gao military base in Mali and between eight and 10 for the special forces.

The troops in the Barkhane mission are deployed across five African partner nations, requiring transport across great distance in the Sahel region.

By 2025, the NH90 will by 2025 form the main helicopter for the services, with the target of 115 tactical helicopters set by the 2013 2103 defense and security white paper, the DGA said. An upgraded Cougar and the Caracal will also form part of the helicopter fleet.

France has ordered for the Navy 27 NH90s in the NATO Frigate Helicopter version, of which 15 have been delivered. The Army has received 17 so far.

Airbus holds 32.5 percent of NHI, AgustaWestland 32 percent and Fokker 5.5 percent.


More In Training & Sim