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Paris Air Show 2019: French Joint Forces Light Helicopter Guepard will be fitted with FN Herstal machine gun pod


At Paris Air Show 2019, on the booth of the French Ministry of Defense, a full-size mockup of the new Joint Forces Light Helicopter Guepard is presented for the first time to the public. In the beginning of June 2019, The French Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, has announced that the launch of the Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger; HIL) program will be launched for 2021.


French Joint Forces Light Helicopter Guepard will be fitted with FN Herstal machine gun pod Paris Air Show 2019 925 001 A full-size mockup of the New Guepard AH-160M Joint Forces Light Helicopter at Paris Air Show 2019, International Aerospace and Aviation defense exhibition in France. June 18, 2019.  (Picture source Air Recognition)


The Guepard is designed to replace five different helicopters fleets currently in service with the Land, Naval and Air Forces of the French armed forces to improve helicopter operational readiness. Adaptable and multi-role, it will carry out surveillance and intervention missions lying beside next-generation helicopters like the TIGER, the Caracal and the Caiman.

The French armed forces should order 169 Guepard helicopters also called H160M with 80 helicopters for the Army, who will receive the first units, 49 for the Navy and 40 for the Air Force. The Guepard helicopter is based on the H160 designed and manufactured by the French Company Airbus Helicopter.

The H160 is the first rotorcraft to feature the Blue Edge five-bladed main rotor. This incorporates a double-swept shape that reduces the noise generation of blade-vortex interactions (BVI), a phenomenon which occurs when the blade impacts a vortex created at its tip, resulting in a 3–4 dB noise reduction and raising the effective payload by 100 kg (220 lb) compared with a scaled Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin rotor design.

The Guepard H160M will be powered by two Turbomeca Arrano turboshaft engines which have a maximum take-off power of 1280 shp-shaft horsepower. It has a maximum take-off weight of 6,050 tons and can fly at a maximum top speed of 330 km/h.


French Joint Forces Light Helicopter Guepard will be fitted with FN Herstal machine gun pod Paris Air Show 2019 925 002
FN Herstal machine gun pod mounted on Guepard helicopter at Paris Air Show 2019. June 18, 2019. (Picture source Air Recognition)


At Paris Air Show 2019, the Guepard AH-160M was fitted with a machine gun pod designed and manufactured by the Belgian firearms manufacturer FN Herstal armed with one .50 12.7mm caliber FN® M3P machine gun.

FN Herstal integrates its well-known .50 cal FN® M3P machine gun in a range of fixed-forward firing pods. Fitted with standard lugs, the pods can be carried by helicopters and subsonic aircraft equipped with 14’’ NATO standard suspension masts. Depending on the configuration, they come with 250 rounds (FN® HMP250) or 400 rounds (FN® HMP400) ammunition boxes, with links collector or links and cases collector, with or without 70mm (2.75’’) rocket launcher tubes (FN® RMP), reconfigurable thanks to existing conversion kits.

Each version is available with a MIL-STD-1760 compliant digital architecture that allows easy integration in modern platforms. They can be operated from FN or non-FN Armament Management Systems (AMS).