NH Industries (NHI) believes it could capture as many as 100 additional commitments for its NH90 10.6-class military rotorcraft, with France and Qatar leading the charge for new orders.

If it secures deals for a full 100 extra helicopters then it would push the programme over the 600-unit mark, with the current order total standing at 509.

That figure reflects for the first time a raft of recent contract modifications which has seen Portugal cancel all 10 of the TTH troop transport variants it had on order, Spain dramatically cut its 45-strong commitment of TTHs to 22, and Germany – in a change that was finally ratified in the run-up to Paris – cancel 40 transports and place a firm order for 18 NFH naval models with options for a further 22 examples.

“Now I’m in a situation where 509 is clearly the actual number ordered,” says Vincent Dubrule, president of NHI, a joint venture between Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland, and Fokker. “So now I expect only plusses.”

Those additions are likely to come from France, which has given preliminary approval for six more TTHs, and Qatar which has provisionally agreed to acquire 16 helicopters – an equal split of both variants with six more on option.

“We are now finalising that contract. We hope it will come in the coming months,” says Dubrule.

Further ahead, NHI sees other current customers returning for top-up orders, such as Norway, which has issued a request for information for nine aircraft for use by special forces personnel. Other opportunities – such as Singapore’s efforts to replace its aged AS332/AS532 Super Puma/Cougar fleet – may also yield more orders.

However, Dubrule insists that he is not solely focussed on new business. “I have 13 current customers and I want to help them and support them. I want to help them deploying which will then help my future sales.”

So far, Italian and German TTHs have seen action in Afghanistan, Dutch NFHs deployed to the Horn of Africa on anti-piracy missions, and two French army troop transports are presently in Mali on counter insurgency operations. A French army TTH is taking part in the flying display each day at Paris,

Dubrule says it is continuing to work through issues encountered by its operator base – corrosion problems on the naval variant, for example, in order to “improve customer satisfaction”.

“We want to make sure our customers can fly when they want and have more aircraft available.”

Source: Flight Daily News