Germany has finally confirmed a deal that will see it order 18 new NH Industries NH90 NFH helicopters for its navy, while at the same time trimming commitments for the troop transport variant and Airbus Helicopters Tigers.
The deal for the naval NH90 – to be known as the Sea Lion in German service – is worth around €1.4 billion ($1.55 billion). However, the German army will now receive 80 instead of 122 NH90s, with two further airframes for training and 22 more covered by options. In addition, its order for the Tiger will fall to a total of 68 attack helicopters. However, 11 early-build examples will be immediately retired from service, with the army targeting a future frontline fleet of just 40.
"The helicopter framework agreement is an acceptable solution for both the German [Ministry of Defence] and Airbus Helicopters. It enables the German MoD to fulfil the targets of the structural reform and it means planning security for us," says Wolfgang Schoder, chief executive of Airbus Helicopters Germany.
"With the order of 18 NH90 Sea Lion, the Bundeswehr will get a helicopter which is successfully in operation in five NATO nations, which has shown its outstanding performance in multinational missions and I´m sure that it will fulfill the operational requirements of the German naval forces," Schoder adds. "Furthermore, the German helicopter industry can continue its key competences in developing, producing, supporting and upgrading maritime helicopters."
Deliveries of the Sea Lion model are due to commence in 2018, as the German navy retires its fleet of Westland Sea King 41s.
News agency Reuters reports that assent from the German parliament for the deal comes with a number of conditions attached, including penalties – up to potential cancellation – if delivery and performance targets are not met.
Germany has a difficult relationship with the NH90, having recently temporarily grounded the 10.6t troop transport variant over safety concerns.