MARGNANE, France - During a visit to Airbus Helicopters' headquarters, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly revealed the full-scale mock-up of the H160M, which will be presented at next month's Paris Air Show.
The H160M, dubbed "Guepard" (Cheetah in French), is a modular platform intended to play numerous roles in the French military, including anti-ship warfare, air intercept, and commando infiltration across the nation's army, navy, and air forces.
The program is a part of France's Joint Light Helicopter (HIL) effort. The Airbus H160 was selected in 2017 and was initially scheduled to launch in 2022 with delivery of the first units to take place in 2026.
“We are proud that the HIL is considered a strategic program. I would like to thank the Ministry, the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA and the armed forces for their trust and for the close collaboration which helped create the conditions for the program to be brought forward within the framework of the current military budget law. This will make it possible to speed up the replacement of the older generation of aircraft, while optimizing the support and availability of the French State’s helicopter fleet,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “Our teams are committed to delivering an aircraft in 2026 that meets the needs of the French armed forces in terms of availability, performance and capability, thus enabling it to rapidly become the new benchmark on the world’s medium-lift military helicopter market.”
Built around a platform that will enter service next year, the HIL program will benefit from many of the advantages inherent in the civil H160, particularly in terms of support, with simplified maintenance and lower operating costs than the previous generation of helicopters in this category.
According to Airbus, the Guepard will replace five legacy helicopters in the French armed services, and will provide 169 units to the government. The French army will be taking delivery of the
lion's Cheetah's share of the units with 80 landing for that branch, with 49 going to the navy, and 40 to the air force.