NH Industries (NHI) expects to receive the first parts sourced from Australia’s retired fleet of NH90 helicopters around mid-year, while multiple of the type’s users have signed up to a new support model.

“We are going to start a standard exchange service in the second semester of this year,” says NHI president Axel Aloccio. To include incorporating pre-owned parts bought from Australia, the initiative “will be a game changer for us”, he believes.


Source: Commonwealth of Australia

Australia permanently removed 45 MRH90 Taipans from use following a fatal crash in July 2023

NHI’s new service agreement – which will draw on a pool of parts, rather than those owned by individual nations – has been signed up to by “almost all [operator] nations”, he notes, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

“Whenever you have a part failing, instead of waiting three, four, five months for this part to come back from repair, we will do an immediate exchange… within a couple of days,” he explains.

“We have a lot of work to do. By far the most important thing is to improve our support performance,” Aloccio said at Defence IQ’s International Military Helicopter conference in London on 28 February.

“The input we get is that our customers want to double or possible triple their flying hours by the end of the decade,” he says. The current annual usage figure is around 40,000h, and the operational fleet has accumulated over 410,000h since Germany took the first example in 2006.

Among other measures being taken, Aloccio says NHI ordered spare parts worth more than €200 million ($216 million) last year. It also is working with its suppliers to boost repair capacity.

“We are focusing our attention on a subset of 50 to 60 parts which are mission critical for our customers and for which our repair capacity at the moment is not enough,” he says.

“It’s a war every day,” he says of the industry’s current supply chain challenge. “It is a daily fight to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 Max supply chains, because they are ramping up like crazy – most of the time the suppliers are the same.”

NHI has sold 605 NH90s to date and delivered 515 to 14 nations. Aloccio says it expects to secure orders for between 50 and 100 more within the next five years, from both repeat and new buyers.

Meanwhile, he says NHI and its customers have a joint target to define the overall specifications for a future Block 2 upgrade to the NH90 “by the end of this year”. Discussions began with “10 or 11” of the nations last December, he adds.

In addition to Australia, which permanently withdrew its remaining 45 locally-named MRH90 Taipan aircraft from use following a fatal accident in July 2023, Norway also has stopped operating the NH90. Additionally, Sweden intends to retire its examples by 2035.