ILA: Eurocopter unveils medevac NH90

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EADS's rotorcraft unit Eurocopter has brought to ILA a new medical evacuation variant of its NH90 helicopter, developed "with a view to future German military requirements".

The variant is a response to an initiative by Germany's federal ministry of defence aimed at increasing availability of protected transport capability for wounded personnel. This identified a need for 12 helicopters.

Eurocopter says that the project can be completed within 20 months. To minimise the approval procedure, part of the development work originally planned for the full operational capability NH90, which also includes ballistic protection, has been moved forward.

The medevac NH90 is equipped with two intensive care bays for treating personnel and seats for the medical team. A mission package with similar capability is being offered as a retrofit for the tactical transport helicopter variant of the NH90 for combat search and rescue missions.

Options for the CSAR variant include up to three machine guns (one on each side door and one on the tail ramp), ballistic protection, a rappelling system, a double rescue hoist, an emergency flotation system, sand filters, an obstacle warning system and electronic countermeasures self-protection.

nh90 medevac, billypix
 © Billypix

Joining the medevac NH90 on static display at the HeliCenter is an NH90 naval variant - or NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) - operated by the Royal Netherlands Navy. France also now has its first NFH in service, and Eurocopter says the German navy is studying a proposal for a naval variant called the MH90-NG. This could replace its Westland Sea King and Sea Lynx helicopters for anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue missions.

A total of 529 NH90s - 111 NFHs and 419 TTHs - have been ordered by 14 nations. Half of these customers are already operating the type. Australia has 11 NH90s in active service, Germany 10, Finland seven, Italy and Sweden four each, and the Netherlands one.

Meanwhile, Eurocopter's Tiger combat helicopter - which has been ordered by Australia, France, Germany and Spain - will be showing off its manoeuvrability during the daily flying displays. Three French army Tigers have been deployed in Afghanistan since mid-2009.

Eurocopter's presence in the HeliCenter static display is rounded out by an EC135 configured for emergency medical services, the 11th of 23 ordered by the Polish ministry of health; a Eurocopter-upgraded German army Sikorsky CH-53GA transport, used for personnel recovery missions; an EMS-configured EC145, operated by air rescue service Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht; an EC145 Stylence aircraft intended for VIP and corporate missions; an EC135 belonging to the Bavarian police; and an EC120 designed for executive transport and training missions.

Poland's EC135s - acquired to replace an ageing fleet of Mil Mi-2 helicopters - are to be distributed among 17 bases. Technical support is the responsibility of Warsaw-based Heli Invest, a Eurocopter distributor and certificated maintenance centre. Eurocopter says it holds an 80% share of the EMS helicopter market.

At the EADS exhibit, a Lithuanian border guard EC145 is on display. Lithuania has been operating an EC120 since 2002, and in 2006 its border guard took delivery of two EC135s and one EC145. These are for use in border surveillance and law enforcement along the country's borders with Belarus and Kaliningrad, to meet security requirements imposed by the Schengen Agreement.