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PARIS: Italy receives first naval NH90 helicopter

NH Industries will today hand Italy its first naval NH90 helicopter at the European rotary- wing consortium's display area.

"The Italian navy's first NFH90 is the ninth helicopter to be delivered to navies," said Domenico Vaccari, NHI (static P82) vice-president for the naval version.

The delivery follows the previous transfer of four aircraft each to France and the Netherlands, and also involves an aircraft in a so-called meaningful operational capability (MOC) or "Step A" configuration.

This allows the type to conduct tasks such as training, search and rescue and utility missions, said Vaccari.

Billypix
 © Billypix

NHI will in the third quarter of this year deliver its first MOC-standard aircraft to the Royal Norwegian Navy, with the aircraft having already begun acceptance trails.

"NH Industries will deliver three more NFH90 MOC each to France and the Netherlands, while a total of respectively five and six will be delivered from today to the Italian and Norwegian navies," said Vaccari. Naval NH90s have accumulated more than 900 flying hours, he added.

Work to qualify the NFH90 with its full operational capability or "Step B" mission suite should conclude by the end of this year, leading to deliveries from the second quarter of 2012. The new standard will support the whole spectrum of required missions, which primarily cover anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare tasks.

The full operational capability variant will receive its updated surface search radar with a new digital processor only from helicopters delivered from January 2013, said Vaccari. Previous examples will be retrofitted.

The Italian navy has ordered 46 ASW/ASuW and 10 maritime utility versions of the NFH90. Vaccari said NHI is required to deliver 18 of the former standard by 2014 to fill the gap left by the retirement of the navy's Agusta-Bell AB212 and Sikorsky Sea King helicopters.

NHI is eyeing an Indian navy programme for an initial 16 medium naval helicopters. Flying evaluation trials will be conducted from Luni air station in Italy in September. Vaccari said the company recently received a request for information from the Indian navy for an additional 55 NH90s in the naval version.

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