Eurocopter was eyeing new German military requirements at the ILA Berlin Air Show earlier this month, even as it defended its delivery performance on the German Army’s Tiger attack helicopter program. The company displayed a Forward Air Medical Evacuation (medevac) configuration of the NH-90, and its concept for the Marinehubschrauber 90-Neue Generation (MH90-NG), that would replace the German Navy’s Sea King and Lynx fleets.
Eurocopter also displayed the first NH-90 NFH helicopter to enter service with the Dutch Navy. Company CEO Lutz Bertling described the naval NH-90 as “the obvious answer for German frigates, since it was designed for them at a cost of €250 million to the government.”
But the German requirements are also being contested by AgustaWestland and Sikorsky. The former proposes the AW101 and the latter has a version of the S-92 that is based on the CH-148 Cyclone now entering service with the Canadian Armed Forces as a Sea King replacement.
Bertling discussed in detail the problems that have prevented the German Army from certifying the Tiger attack helicopter. While acknowledging that Eurocopter had underestimated the technical complexity of the development, Bertling noted that Australia and France had successfully introduced the Tiger, the latter into combat operations in Afghanistan.
But the German authorities have refused to certify the Tiger until wiring harnesses have been changed to eliminate the risk of chafing. Bertling said that Eurocopter will hand over the first two modified helicopters next month, and another three by year-end.
He said that a lack of qualified staff in the German Defence Ministry was slowing acceptance of the new machines. “We could deliver 12 per year, but they can accept only five per year,” he said.