Effective, modern and innovative
The NH90 – developed by Europe’s NHIndustries partnership (Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters, and Fokker Aerostructures) – was designed to meet NATO’s requirement for a modern medium-sized multi-role military helicopter for both land and maritime operations.
The core vehicle for the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) versions is a twin-engine aircraft incorporating innovative features such as an advanced mission flight aid and fly-by-wire control system with 4-axis autopilot, along with on-board monitoring and diagnostics systems.
Benefitting from a modern approach to materials, the NH90’s composite fuselage has fewer parts and a lower structural weight, resulting in 30% more endurance compared to a metallic fuselage, plus increased resistance to battle damage, among other benefits. The composite rotor blades have greater fatigue strength, damage tolerance and component lifetimes, as well as improved aerodynamic performance.
Versatile and compact, it is small enough to fit in the hangar of a NATO frigate, but with a cabin volume to accommodate 20 fully-equipped troops or a maritime mission system. Its wide modular cabin, large sliding doors on each side and a rear ramp make it the most accessible military helicopter available.
Detection avoidance: The NH90 features the lowest radar signature in its class thanks to its diamond-shaped, full composite airframe. In addition, infrared suppressor devices and vertical engine air intakes further contribute to lowering its acoustic and infrared signatures.
Self-protection: The helicopter’s advanced self-protection suite is composed of laser and radar warning receivers, a missile launch detection system and chaff/flare dispensers.
Survivability: The inherent redundancy of fly-by-wire controls (four segregated analogue / digital channels) greatly increases survivability if engaged by small arms fire. All systems and subsystems are redundant and segregated; armour plating is provided for both crew and troops.
The crashworthy composite structure, which prevents heavy components from breaching the cabin, combined with highly effective floatation gear, gives a best-in-class level of crew survivability.
Integration, commonality and maintainability
The NH90’s integrated avionics suite and glass cockpit facilitates intuitive interaction with helicopter systems, communications suite, flight, navigation and mission aids. This enables effective management of the cockpit environment for mission success and safety in all operating conditions.
Highly integrated workstations and the use of data fusion increase the speed, accuracy and quantity of data that can be processed and displayed on configurable screens. This is vital for effective autonomous and joint operations in land and maritime environments.
Pilot workload is drastically reduced through the use of an optimised human-machine interface, permitting the NH90 NFH to fly naval warfare missions day and night with a crew of one pilot, one tactical coordinator in the cockpit, and one sensor operator at the cabin workstation. A configuration with two pilots and two tactical operators in the cabin is also possible.
As “a common platform for all missions” the NH90’s Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) versions use common systems, facilitating parallel design and simplifying their logistics support footprint.
Having one core training system for pilots and maintenance technicians, along with a core maintenance and spares system, significantly reduces lifecycle costs.
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NFH version (NATO frigate helicopter)
The NH90’s NFH version is a ship-based compact maritime helicopter, one of the primary maritime weapon systems for any surface fleet. Operating from shore or warships in all flyable conditions, the helicopter is tailored for full capability in both anti-submarine (ASW) and anti-surface (ASuW) warfare. Search and rescue operations can be performed in either of these configurations.
Complementary roles at which NFH is extremely effective include maritime surveillance and control, airborne warning control, logistic transport and utility support, vertical replenishment (VertRep), casualty evacuation (CasEvac) and special operations (SpecOps / SOF) – including counter terrorism and anti-piracy.
The NH90 can be configured with anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and sonobuoys. It can be equipped simultaneously with both an anti-ship missile and a torpedo.
Advanced navigation and ship landing aids enable the helicopter to perform safe landings in day/night and adverse weather conditions, supplemented by a deck lock device for securing the touchdown in high sea states.
NFH has fulfilled missions along the East African Coast, in the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, Mediterranean and northern waters. Its operational versatility and wide range of capabilities make it the most effective naval helicopter available today; it is a true force multiplier and an essential asset for any operation.