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World Defense & Security News - Airbus Helicopters
Airbus Helicopters H160 to replace French Air Force Gazelle and Fennec helicopters
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves le Drian announced today that 160 to 190 helicopters will be ordered from Airbus Helicopters. "I came here to tell you that I decided [...] to make the H160 the basis of the future joint light helicopter," the minister said during his visit to the factory in Southern France.
Airbus Helicopters H160 to replace French Air Force Gazelle and Fennec helicopters 640 001Airbus Helicopters' H160 medium-lift helicopter
(Credit: Airbus HC)

The HIL (for Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger or Light Joint Helicopter) program will replace six helicopter types with the French military: Panther, Dauphin & Alouette III in French Navy (Marine Nationale) service, Fennec in French Air Force and Army service, and Gazelle in French Army service.

Airbus' H160 helicopter would replace 18 Fennec and 111 Gazelle choppers of the French Army, and 42 Fennec of the French Air Force. The Air Force's Super Puma VIP and Puma would be replaced by the H225M Caracal, while 74 NH90 are currently replacing the Army's Puma platforms.

The H160 is a 6 tons class helicopter capable of speeds of 160 knots. It can carry 12 passengers at distances of up to 120 nautical miles.

According to Airbus Helicopters, the H160 features the noise-reducing and performance-enhancing "Blue Edge" main rotor designed to increase the lift capacity by 100 kg and lower noise signature by 50% (3 dB). The first HIL helicopters are set to be delivered in 2024 and not 2028 as previously planned.