French Navy’s Latest Acquisition – The Final H160FI: What You Need to Know

Recently, the Marine nationale acquired its six and final H160FI helicopter, marking a significant leap in their aerial capabilities. This comes as part of a strategic decision to lease a temporary fleet of helicopters from private suppliers, driving a new era of increased efficiency and rescue capabilities.

Contractual Agreements and Deliveries

The first step in this process was an agreement with DCI and Heli-Union. This contract led to the of ten Dauphin N3s. Following this, a subsequent ten-year contract was awarded to a consortium comprising , Babcock, and Safran Helicopters Engine. This agreement paved the way for the operation of six H160 FIs.

The six H160FI helicopters, the first of which was delivered in September 2022, have since been handed over. The final addition to the fleet was received in February 2024, completing the acquisition process 18 months after the first delivery.

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Reactivation of the 32F Squadron and Flight Hours

In June 2023, the Marine nationale reactivated the 32F squadron. The H160FI helicopters, which are based at the Cherbourg-Manche airport, made significant contributions by being involved in 32 out of 79 rescue operations by mid-October.

By November, the Marine nationale logged 1000 flight hours with just three . The delivery of the sixth H160FI brought an additional 500 flight hours for the fleet, further boosting their airtime capabilities.

Technical Features and Maintenance

The H160FI is not just a typical helicopter. It comes equipped with an extensive range of features including an Euroflir 410 optronic ball, night vision systems, a winch, a diver bin, and medical equipment. This makes it a versatile unit capable of handling a variety of operations.

Babcock , Helicopters, and Safran Helicopter Engines provide maintenance for these advanced helicopters. This collaborative effort helps maintain the operational condition of the fleet. Such a partnership is paramount to ensuring a high level of availability. This is critical as the fleet is tasked with the sea rescue mission over the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, as well as the English Channel.

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