The first Eurocopter Tiger HAD for the French army made its first flight at Eurocopter’s Marignane facility near Marseille on December 17.
The aircraft, the first of 40 of the advanced HAD models France has on order, will add more powerful MTR390 engines and the ability to employ Hellfire anti-armour missiles. France is currently taking delivery of 40 HAP Tigers, and has long term plans to upgrade these aircraft to the more advanced version.
Spain has also ordered 18 new build and six upgraded HAD Tigers.
The first NH90 Troop Transport Helicopter (TTH) for France has also conducted its first flight. The aircraft joins three naval NH90 NFHs which have already been delivered to the French navy, and will be flight tested at the Istres flight test centre before entering service in late 2011.
“The first flight of an NH90 TTH for France marks another important milestone for our French customer after the introduction of the NH90 in Naval version to French navy in 2010,” said Dominique Maudet, Eurocopter’s executive vice president for governmental programs. “Since the startup of NH90 deliveries in 2006, a total of 68 helicopters have been provided to eight customers in Europe and overseas from five assembly lines.”
France has ordered 34 TTHs and 28 NFHs.
The first of 44 NH90 TTHs for Spain also made its first flight on December 17, capping off a busy day for Eurocopter’s flight test staff. The aircraft, powered by GE CT7-8F5 engines, is the only Spanish NH90 that will be built at Marignane, with the remainder to be assembled in a dedicated facility at Albacete in Spain.
The Spanish army is expected to start taking deliveries of NH90s in 2012.
Finally, the second EC175 prototype helicopter performed its first flight on December 17 from Eurocopter’s Marignane facility. To date, Eurocopter says a total of 114 commitments for the EC175 have been placed by 14 customers. Deliveries are due to begin 2012.