NH Industries here on Monday presented an award to general Olivier Gourlez de la Motte, commander of the French Army’s aviation (Alat), in recognition of “the first operational deployment of a NH90 TTH Caïman overseas.”
Two Caïmans, as they are called in the French forces, have been based in Mali as part of the Barkhane operation. A third and a fourth one are expected to join them “quite soon,” according to de la Motte.
Performing daily here at the Paris Air Show, the NH90 TTH is “showing a very small part of its capability,” a pilot told AIN, describing the helicopter as “very maneuverable.” Just back from Mali, he emphasized Alat crews already benefit from better safety and much greater situational awareness, compared to the previous-generation rotorcraft they have used. He also praised the air conditioning, which is absent from older aircraft.
The pilot predicted that a nap-of-the-earth approach to a combat theater, in poor visibility and flown on instruments, is doable with the NH90. However, he believes it will take several years to develop the related procedures. Alat crews already combine manual flying with the upper modes of the autopilot to land in brownout conditions.
NH Industries (Static C2) hopes to receive an order for a further six NH90 TTHs from France this year. The ministry of defense plans to transfer all H225M Caracals to the armée de l’Air air force, according to a military source. The special forces will thus eventually operate only NH90s, as will Alat.