The NHIndustries NH90 is a medium-sized, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter. It was developed in response to NATO requirements for a battlefield helicopter which would also be capable of being operated in naval environments. The NH90 developed and is manufactured by NHIndustries, which is wholly owned by Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland and Fokker Aerostructures. The first prototype conducted its maiden flight in December 1995; the type began to enter operational service with some customers in 2007. As of 2013, a total of thirteen nations have placed orders for the NH90.
The NH90 has the distinction of being the first production helicopter to feature entirely fly by wire flight controls. There are two main variants, the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) for Army use and the navalised NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH); each customer typically has various alterations and customisations made to their own NH90 fleets, such as different weapons, sensors and cabin arrangements, to meet their own specific requirements. In early service, the NH90 has suffered several teething issues, which has in turn delayed active deployment of the type by some operators.
NFH: NATO Frigate Helicopter
The primary role of the NFH version is autonomous anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface unit warfare (ASuW), mainly from naval ships. These aircraft are equipped for day and night, adverse weather and severe ship motion operations. Additional roles include anti-air warfare support, vertical replenishment (VERTREP), search and rescue (SAR) and troop transport. France are splitting their purchase between the “NFH version combat” costing €43.3m in FY2013 and the “NFH version soutien” (support) at €36.4m in FY2013.
NH90 NFH Caïman
NH90 Sea Lion
German Navy development of the NH90 NFH. The Sea Lion features an expanded suite of sensors and other avionics permitting a wider range of operations to be undertaken. First flight was on 8 December 2016 and service deliveries are expected in 2019.
Italian Navy designation from 2012 for NH90 NFH.
TTH: Tactical Transport Helicopter
Swedish Air Force designation for NH90 TTH: Sweden has bought the High Cabin Version (HCV) of the TTH, in which the cabin height is increased by 24 cm (9.4 in) to 1.82 m (6.0 ft).The Swedish aircraft have a Tactical Mission System developed by SAAB and are designated HKP14. Finnish and Swedish TTHs are called Tactical Troop Transports (TTT) in some contexts.
Spanish Army designation for NH90 GSPA TTH.
Australian military designation for NH90 TTH.
NH90 TTH Caïman
Italian Army designation from 2012 for NH90 TTH.
Sweden has bought the High Cabin Version (HCV) of both the TTH and NFH, in which the cabin height is increased by 24 cm (9.4 in) to 1.82 m (6.0 ft). The Swedish aircraft have a Tactical Mission System developed by SAAB and are designated HKP14. Finnish and Swedish TTHs are called Tactical Troop Transports (TTT) in some contexts.
NH90 TTH orders and delivers
Firm orders have been placed for the TTH by Australia (46), France (74), Germany (122), Italy (70), Sweden (18), Finland (20), Greece (20), Spain (45), Belgium (four), New Zealand (eight plus one for spares), Oman (20) and Norway (14).
In July 2006, New Zealand placed an order for nine NH90 TTH helicopters. The first two NH90 TTH helicopters were delivered to the New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) in December 2011. The remaining helicopter deliveries were concluded by late 2013. The Spanish MoD placed an order for 45 NH90 TTH helicopters in December 2006.
In 2007, France placed an order for 34 TTH helicopters plus 34 options to replace its Puma helicopters in the ALAT (French Army Aviation). The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) exercised the options for a batch of 12 and 22 NH90 helicopters in November 2007 and December 2009, respectively. The first helicopter was delivered in January 2012.
In June 2007, Belgium signed a contract with NAHEMA for ten NH90 helicopters, including four TTH, four NFH, and two optional TTH aircraft. The first Belgian NH90 TTH completed its maiden flight in September 2012.
In January 2016, the French DGA ordered an additional six helicopters, bringing the total firm orders to 74 helicopters. Deliveries are scheduled to conclude by 2019.
The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs (MEA) entered a contract with NHIndustries for participation in the sustainment phase of the helicopter.
The Spanish Army received the first two NH90 helicopters from the Airbus Helicopters in September 2016.
Design of the tactical transport helicopter
The TTH incorporates a low-weight composite airframe. Its strengthened structure increases the fatigue life and can withstand corrosion and battlefield damage. The helicopter features a fully composite crash-worthy fuselage. The fuselage is provided with a rear ramp to enable the loading of a light tactical vehicle.
The composite rotor blades are designed to enhance damage tolerance and component life while delivering improved aerodynamic performance. The TTH version is specially configured to meet the requirements of utility-based operations in all environments by day and night. The modular cabin design allows the operators to perform modifications according to their specific missions and roles.
The helicopter has a length of 19.56m (rotors turning), width of 4.62m and a height of 5.2m. It can transport up to 20 troops or more than 2,500kg of cargo.
- Troop transport of up to 20 fully equipped troops.
- Logistic and Utility transport of internal and external loads.
- Search and Rescue (SAR).
Troop transportLogistic and Utility transport Search and Rescue (SAR)Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) & Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)
Complimentary Roles when suitably role equipped
- Utility support including disaster relief.
- Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC).
- Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).
- Combat Search and Rescue.
- Special Operations including Counter Terrorism.
- Electronic Warfare.
- Airborne Command Post.
- VIP Transport.
Cockpit and avionics systems
The cockpit accommodates a pilot and a co-pilot. The full glass cockpit is equipped with an integrated avionic suite, advanced controls, a communication suite, and a navigation system. It is also equipped with multifunction displays.
The fly-by-wire controls with four-axis automatic flight control system reduce crew workload. Other mission systems include helmet-mounted sight and display, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system, weather radar, digital map generator, and an on-board monitoring and diagnostic system.
The NH90 has ‘fly-by-wire’ all electric flight controls from Goodrich Actuation Systems and Liebherr Aerospace. This full authority quadruplex system increases the manoeuvrability of the aircraft while decreasing the weight. The avionics system is supplied by Thales Avionics and is based on a dual MIL-STD-1553B digital databus.
Honeywell Primus 701A weather radar
Honeywell’s Primus® 700A/701A search and rescue weather radars are the finest systems available with surveillance and search modes integrated with color weather radar. Primus 701A has all of the features of the Primus 700A, but has the additional beacon detection.
The radars incorporate ARINC 429 and ARINC 708 interfaces allowing compatibility with a wide range of display products. These radar offer ruggedized chassis, reduced electromagnetic interference (EMI) emissions and susceptibility and improved blanking outputs.
The Primus 701A operates with either a weather radar indicator or with an electronic flight information system (EFIS) system using controllers. Source aerospace.honeywell.com
The avionics package includes the Thales Topowl helmet-mounted sight and display which has a 40° field of view. Topowl also equips the Tiger and Rooivalk attack helicopters.
Thales Topowl helmet-mounted sight
Under a contract awarded in January 2008, German NH90 helicopters are fitted with EADS Defence Electronics MilOWS, a military version of the HELLAS laser-based helicopter obstacle warning system.
EADS Defence Electronics MilOWS
EADS Defence Electronics MilOWS, a military version of the HELLAS laser-based helicopter obstacle warning system.
The system scans the area ahead of the helicopter using a laser beam that poses no danger to the human eye. It can detect even thin wires with a high level of precision at a distance of over one kilometre. MilOWS classifies potential obstacles in the categories wires, masts or individual standing objects as obstacle symbols that are superimposed onto a video or FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) video. The pilot sees this information on the visor of his helmet or on a multifunctional display in the cockpit. Alarms also sound when an obstacle or the ground is dangerously close. The crew is therefore able to identify and circumvent obstacles in time. Source scoop.it
The NH90 is equipped with an integrated communications and identification management system. The secure radio system provides air-to-air and air-to-ground communications. The TSC 2000 IFF (identification friend or foe) supplied by Thales was developed under German and French cooperation. The helicopter is equipped with a Link 11 secure datalink.
TSC 2000 IFF
- Modes 1, 2, 3/A, C, 4, NSM
- Mode S up to level 3 (ELS, EHS)
- Mode 5 level 1 and 2
- COMSEC appliqué or external (KIV77 – QRTK3NG)
- Interface TCAS 7.1 compliant
- Reverse IFF capable
- MIL-STD-1553B, DIGIBUS, ARINC 485, ARINC 429 interfaces
- Antenna Diversity
- Mode 4/5 or National Secure Modes
- Stanag 4193, ICAO Annex 10 (Amndt 85), DoD AIMS 97-1000 and DoD AIMS 03-1000B compliant
- ADS-B OUT, DO260B compliant
- MIDS compatible
TSC 2000 IFF Transponder
- Standard French and German IFF transponder
- Remote unit
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 124x194x318 mm (1/2 ATR short)
- Weight: 6.8 kg
TSC 2030 Panel Mounted IFF Transponder
- Lightweight and compact configuration
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 127x130x145 mm
- Weight: 3.4 kg
NH90 TTH engines
The NH90 TTH is powered by two Rolls-Royce-Turbomeca RTM322 engines. The twin-shaft engine features a three-stage compressor driven by a two-stage gas generator turbine. Each engine generates a power output of 2,327shp. The operation is controlled by a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system.
NH90 Engines (2000 KW class – dual channel FADEC)
|Depending on NH90 variant||
2 x RTM322-01/9 or 2 x GE T700/T6E1
|Enhanced Engine performance in Hot/High||
2 x RTM322-01/9A or 2 x GE CT7-8F5
Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322
Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-01/9 turboshaft 1,662 kW (2,230 shp) each
The RTM 322 01/9 lies at the heart of the NH Industries NH90. It serves the air forces of eleven different countries: France (Tactical Transport & Naval Frigate variants), Germany (TTH), the Netherlands (NFH), Norway (NFH), Sweden (TTH), Finland (TTH), Greece (TTH), Belgium (TTH/NFH), Oman (TTH), New Zealand (TTH) and Australia (TTH). Certified in July 2004, the RTM 322 01/9 can deliver take-off power of 2,388 shp and cruise power of 2,231 shp. Maximum power using the One Engine Inoperative (OEI) rating is 2,911 shp. Source safran-helicopter-engines.com
|OEI 30 sec (100%)||2,172||2,913|
|OEI 2 min||1,855||2,488|
|OEI 30 min||–||–|
|AEO TOP (30 min) (x2)||1,781||2,388|
|AEO Continuous (x2)||1,664||2,231|
General Electric T700-T6E turboshaft
General Electric T700-T6E turboshaft 1,577 kW (2,115 shp) each
The T6E1 engine rated at 2,500-shp is a derivative of T700 engine. T6E1 reduces pilot workload and enhances maintainability. It features an advanced, increased-airflow compressor and a dual-channel, full-authority digital electronic control (FADEC) system. The engine was co-developed by GE and Avio SpA of Turin, Italy. The T6E1 is one of two alternative propulsion systems approved to power NH90 helicopters.
The Italian Ministry of Defense selected the General Electric T6E1 engine to power their NH90 helicopters with first deliveries beginning in late 2005. The Italian Army will receive 60 NH90s and the Italian Navy will receive 56 NH90s both models powered by two T6E1 engines. The Italian MoD also has placed options for 160 additional T6E1s. Avio SpA will assemble and test the engines for Italy’s NH90s. Source deagel.com
|GE T700/T6E1 (*)|
|OEI 30 sec (100%)||2,095||2,809|
|OEI 2 min||1,842||2,470|
|OEI 60 min||1,692||2,269|
|AEO TOP (30 min) (x2)||1,692||2,269|
|AEO Continuous (x2)||1,577||2,115|
Armament, self-protection and survivability of the NH90
The NH90 TTH is provided with a fully integrated weapon system, allowing the helicopter to operate in potential asymmetric threat environments. The helicopter is armed with a door-mounted 7.62mm or 12.7mm pintle machine gun.
NC 621 cannon pod
The NC 621 cannon pod extends the range of missions (attack, close fire support, protection, self-defence) of the helicopters and lightest aircrafts. It provides airplanes with 20mm firepower previously restricted to 0.50 weapons. The NC 621 has been developed around the 20 M 621 cannon which is well known for its high accuracy, for simplicity (operation and maintenance) and which fires the 20mm x 102 NATO standard ammunition. The effectiveness and reliability of the NC 621 has been widely proven on various platforms.
– Gaz operated,
– Average firing rate: 750 rounds per minute,
– Ammunition stowage capacity: 180 or 250 ammunition
– Effective range: up to 2,000m
Door-mounted 7.62mm pintle machine gun
Source: Air Force Technology, Wiki
Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated
Updated Apr 30, 2018