Germany Receives First NFH90 Sea Lion Helicopter

Germany took delivery of its first new NFH90 (NATO Frigate Helicopter) Sea Lion variant from Airbus Helicopters on October 24 during a handover ceremony with the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) at Donauwörth.  Germany ordered 18 NFH90 Sea Lions in June 2015 with an eye on a replacement for the German Navy’s aging fleet of Westland Sea King Mk 41 search-and-rescue helicopters.

The Sea Lions will tackle multiple roles for the German Navy, including search and rescue (SAR), maritime reconnaissance, Special Forces missions, and transport. The helicopters will operate from both land and sea, with at-sea missions conducted from the Type 702 (Berlin class) auxiliary ships.

Following official handover of this first unit, another two NFH90s are expected to be delivered prior to the end of the year.

According to an Airbus Helicopters statement, the full 18-unit complement will be delivered by 2022.

In addition, Germany intends to procure 31 additional NFH90s to replace the German Navy’s legacy Westland Sea Lynx Mk 88A onboard helicopter fleet that was delivered in 1981. That procurement is being made under the Sea Tiger program, which the German Defense Ministry hopes to finalize within the next 12 months in order to allow for service entry in parallel with the Sea Lynx phase-out.

The Sea Lynx fleet is due for retirement in 2025.

Photo via Patrick Heinz/Airbus Helicopters

About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is a senior analyst covering both the Europe and Asia-Pacific regions for Forecast International's International Military Markets group.

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