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Spain takes first NH90 helicopter and enhanced Tigers

Spain has received its first NH Industries (NHI) NH90 troop transport helicopter, part of its reduced order for 22 of the type.

Handed over at the Airbus Helicopters plant in Albacete, which assembled the helicopter, the NH90 is also the 50th to be received by an operator this year – a record annual delivery total for the programme.

In all, the NHI consortium – comprising Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland and Fokker – has now delivered 229 of the 11t rotorcraft, with operators having accumulated some 80,000 flight hours.

Madrid in 2006 initially ordered 44 of TTH variant, all powered by General Electric T700 engines, but failed to put a support package in place for the helicopters.

This order was later reduced to 22 units, with the money saved used to fund a support and spare parts deal.

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NH Industries

Alongside the NH90, Spain has also received its first pair of Tiger attack helicopters in the new HAD-E configuration.

It has already taken six examples of the type produced to the earlier HAP-E standard from a total order of 24 helicopters.

The new variant gains uprated MTR390-E turboshafts, integration of Spike anti-tank missiles and an improved countermeasures and self-protection suite.

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Airbus Helicopters

Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing between the consortium and Qatar which earlier this year signed a tentative agreement covering the acquisition of 22 NH90s for around €2 billion ($2.8 billion).

Dominique Maudet, executive vice-president, global business and services, at Airbus Helicopters, says negotiations are continuing with the Gulf state in order to finalise the deal for 12 TTHs and 10 of the NFH naval variant.

Speaking at an event at Airbus Helicopters’ headquarters on 11 December, Maudet said the parties have now agreed the technical specifications for the rotorcraft. Representatives from Qatar visited the NH90 assembly lines in Vergiate, Italy, and Marignane, France, in early December, he says.

“It is difficult to give a precise timeframe, but for us the talks are progressing positively. We do not see any kind of issue so far,” says Maudet.

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