By acting as the ship’s principal weapon system, it can search, classify, shadow and strike with precision well beyond the horizon. At Best Endurance Speed (VBE) the aircraft has a loiter time in excess of four hours.


Combat and intelligence

Airbus’ medium and heavy rotorcraft are a key asset for naval services to monitor and control the maritime environment. Employed by navies worldwide, these aircraft perform missions ranging from anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, to airborne early warning and electronic intelligence. 

Systems integrator

Effectiveness is enhanced by Airbus' extensive experience in the integration of complete mission systems and associated equipment.


Medium helicopters

The versatility of Airbus’ twin-engine Panther AS565 MBe, derived from the civil Dauphin family, has been proven in operational duties that include front-line operations with multi-national forces and air-to-surface combat.

With its compact airframe, the AS565 MBe is used on ships and from land bases, capable of carrying a variety of weapons and high-performance sensors. In addition to its own intercept and attack capabilities, this helicopter serves as a “force multiplier” by providing over-the-horizon surface awareness and targeting to surface ships.

Benefitting from an endurance of more than four hours at loiter speed, the AS565 MBe is an affordable alternative to other light/medium helicopters that are limited in their ability to perform its diverse range of naval missions. The rotorcraft utilises Airbus’ composite Starflex rotor heads, blades and airframe for excellent performance and corrosion resistance, along with the signature Fenestron® tail rotor that provides a high level of maneuverability and safety – especially in confined shipborne operations.

The Panther is in service today with several navies including those of France, Mexico, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It is equipped with four lightweight missiles, tactical radar and EWS for strike missions in the anti-surface warfare role, and with two torpedoes for anti-submarine applications. When used for naval assault, the Panther serves as a capable tactical transport helicopter while transporting a combat group, usually escorted by a second Panther armed with a 20-mm gun or 12.7 mm machine gun.

Capable of operating in all weather conditions, the AS565 MBe features modern cockpit avionics that include Airbus’ automatic flight control system (AFCS) and flight management system. The helicopter is qualified to operate from more than 100 classes of NATO ships, and complies with NATO standardisation agreements (STANAGs).

Specialised heavy helicopters

The twin-engine NH90 NFH is the new-generation NATO frigate helicopter. Developed by Europe’s NH Industries partnership (Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters, and Fokker Aerostructures) as a multi-role maritime weapon system, this modern rotorcraft features a multi-mode fly-by-wire flight control system, a full composite fuselage and glass cockpit, and integrated avionics.

The NH90 NFH can be operated day or night in naval warfare with only one pilot. It has 33 percent more endurance and a reduced combat vulnerability compared to metallic helicopters of the same weight.

When deployed for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, the NH90 NFH can be equipped with a dipping sonar, sonobuoys, two torpedoes or two missiles (or a mix of these weapons), along with a panoramic combat radar and tactical data link 11, among other technologies.  It retains the capability for SAR or passenger transport while in the warfare roles.

For assault, the helicopter can carry two combat teams and load / transport two tactical vehicles or two 120-mm mortars when equipped with the optional rear ramp.

An Airbus AS565 MBe military helicopter of the French Navy flies over a vessel with commandos.


AS565 MBe Infographic    
Side view of an AS565 MBe flying above the sea


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