UK-headquartered operator Babcock has emerged as "global launch operator" for the Airbus Helicopters H160 medium-twin.

Babcock has signed a "five-year frame[work] agreement for the purchase of a fleet of H160s". They will initially operate from its European bases before being "deployed progressively across Babcock’s bases worldwide".

However, the announcement at the Heli-Expo show in Las Vegas on 1 March offered few details about the size or value of the commitment.

Babcock will use the 5.6-6t helicopters for emergency medical and other critical services missions.

“The H160 was a natural choice for Babcock’s operations as its large cabin and low vibration levels and its state-of-the-art technology will make it a safe and comfortable environment for mission critical services to work in,” says Roger Hardy, chief executive aviation at Babcock.

No timeframe for deliveries has been disclosed, but certification and service entry are expected in early 2019.

Airbus Helicopters has remained tight-lipped about customers for the H160, with only Abu Dhabi's Falcon Aviation Services breaking cover so far.

Babcock has been a keen purchaser of new-generation helicopters, with its Mission Critical Services division already investing heavily in the 4.8t Leonardo Helicopters AW169.