The helicopter was delivered to Babcock in May 2022, where it was modified into a light military configuration. The cabin interior was adapted for SAR operations, with a Safran Euroflir 410 electro optical system also installed, before being delivered to the navy this month.
These helicopters will serve as an interim fleet for a period of 10 years, following the retirement of the ageing Alouette fleet, and until the full introduction of the incoming H160M Guépard fleet.
The remaining helicopters are part of a phased introduction in the near future, based at naval air stations in Lanveoc-Poulmic, Britanny, and Hyères, Provence – as well as Cherbourg Airport in Normandy.
Delivery is via a partnership between Airbus, Babcock and Safran Helicopter Engines, under a contract signed with the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) in 2020.
An initial batch of four H160 helicopters in SAR configuration was ordered at the time the contract was signed – this was later expanded in 2021, through the exercise of an option for two more aircraft.