First six Airbus H160s delivered to French navy for SAR missions


The first six Airbus H160s, destined for search-and-rescue (SAR) missions, have been delivered to the French navy. The delivery is part of the interim fleet supplied by the partnership between Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines.

Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters described the delivery as a major milestone for the H160 programme. “This is the first public service version of the H160 to be delivered worldwide,” said Even.

The H160 deliveries in France will strengthen the OEM’s partnership with the French Navy, delivering the right helicopter for its critical SAR missions, he added. “Together with our partners, we will also ensure that the H160 is ready when needed.”

In northern France, the aircraft will begin operating from the Lanveoc-Poulmic naval air station, Brittany and Cherbourg Airport, Normandy. In southern France the aircraft will run SAR missions from the naval air station in Hyères, Provence. This delivery follows the recent commissioning of two H160s in Brazil for the private and business aviation and in Japan for news gathering missions.

The current fleet of H160s is classed as interim because they precede the delivery of  H160M Guépard aircraft. The plan is for 69 H160M Guépards to replace five types of helicopters in service with the French armed forces, as part of the French Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Intuerarmées Léger HIL) programme. Operational feedback from the current delivery of H160s will be used to inform the design of the military version of the aircraft and its associated support system.

In 2020 the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran for the delivery of four H160s in SAR configuration. In 2021, the DGA confirmed an option for two more H160s. The first H160 for the French Navy was delivered to Babcock by Airbus Helicopters last May. Since then, it has been modified into a light military configuration by Babcock. The modular cabin was also adapted for SAR operations and a Safran Euroflir 410 electro optical system was added.

Powered by Arrano engines, the H160 medium twin-engine aircraft, has a modular design to enable missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services.