NHIndustries NH90 TTH

NHIndustries NH90 TTH (c/n 1513, 79+44 of the German Army Aviation Corps / Heeresfliegertruppe), flying display at Tag der Bundeswehr 2024, open doors event of the German Armed Forces held at Fliegerhorst Faßberg, Fassberg, June 2024.

The NH90, twin-engine, multi-purpose helicopter was developed in response to NATO needs for a modern transport and navy rotorcraft. The works began in 1985 and, initially, involved aviation companies from France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In 1987, the United Kingdom withdrew from the project. The remaining countries established NHIndustries – a new aviation company aimed to create the new rotorcraft and including Eurocopter (later Airbus Helicopters), AgustaWestland (then Leonardo) and Fokker Aerostructures as main shareholders.

On 18th December 1995, prototype of the NH90, as the rotorcraft was officially designated, performed its maiden flight. However, the development took almost as long as twelve years, and the first helicopters of that type began their operational service only in 2007.

The NH90 was developed in two main variants – Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) for ground forces and NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) for the navies. Nevertheless, the significant level of customisation caused large differences across the NH90 versions for particular countries, resulting in over twenty variants created so far. It is also worth to emphasise that the NH90 became the first serial manufactured rotorcraft with full fly-by-wire control.

The NH90 was acquired by fourteen countries all over the world. However, the high level of modernity and complexity of the helicopter effectively cooled down the initial enthusiasm. It turned out the NH90 was a high-maintenance rotorcraft, sensitive to software issues. In conjunction with delivery delays and low readiness ratio caused by maintenance requirements, some operators decided to retire their NH90 helicopters after just a few years of service.

In 2022, the NH90 was withdrawn from service with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the Australian Army followed in 2023. In addition, the Belgian Air Component is planning to retire its all helicopters in TTH variant in the nearest future.

Germany was the first country to receive the NH90 helicopters and finally became the largest customer of that rotorcraft. Although the initial number of more than 200 helicopters was significantly reduced, it is expected the country´s fleet of the NH90 would exceed 130 examples in the years to come. Bundeswehr operates both main variants of the rotorcraft, specifically tailored for the German needs. The German versions of the NH90 are called TGEA (TTH German Army), TGEF (TTH German Air Force), TGEE (TTH German Enhanced) for the ground-based rotorcraft, as well as NTH (Naval Transport Helicopter) Sea Lion and MRFH (Multi Role Frigate Helicopter) Sea Tiger for the Navy.

The German NH90TTH are being operated by two troop transport units of the Army Aviation Corps – Transporthubschrauberregiment 10 ´Lüneburger Heide´ in Fassberg and Transporthubschrauberregiment 30 ´Tauberfranken´ in Niederstetten – as well as the International Helicopter Training Centre (Internationales Hubschrauberausbildungszentrum) in Bückeburg.

In 2013, the NH90 of Heeresfliegertruppe marked their first combat operation. Four helicopters were deployed to Afghanistan in a Forward Air Medical Evacuation. On regular basis, the German rotorcraft participate in several domestic and international military exercises and deployments.

The aforementioned TrspHubschrRgt 10 in Fassberg has also operating a NH90 display team which participates in public aviation events, showing the capabilities of the helicopter.

In 2024, the flight demonstration of the German NH90 was enhanced with a spectacular flare show. During this year´s edition of Tag der Bundeswehr open doors event, the stunt was for the first time presented to public gathered at the Fassberg air base, where our current Photo of the Week was taken.

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