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Maiden Flight of German Navy NH90 Sea Tiger

New German Navy NH90-MRFH Sea Tiger taking off at the Airbus Helicopters Production Facility in Donauwörth for its maiden flight [© Carsten Vennemann]

The German Navy’s new NH90 Sea Tiger ASW (anti-submarine warfare helicopter) helicopter made its maiden flight last Thursday, 30 November, reports Carsten Vennemann.

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The German Navy’s future helicopter for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface unit warfare, the NH90 Sea Tiger, successfully took off for its official maiden flight at Airbus Helicopters Production Facility in Donauwörth, Germany, on Thursday 30 November. This first flight, on-time, is a next milestone for Airbus Helicopters and German Naval Aviation.

Harsh weather conditions, snowstorms, afflicted Donauwörth when the Sea Tiger engines started, but a few minutes later the helicopter took-off for the maiden flight in which the new Multi Role Frigate Helicopter for the German Naval Aviation performed well. Airbus Helicopters is now entering a qualification phase that will focus on flight testing the helicopter and new systems to be installed on board the NH90 Sea Tiger.

Maiden flight of NH90-MRFH Sea Tiger (registration 98+55) at the Airbus Helicopters Production Facility in Donauwörth during harsh weather conditions [©CV]

The Sea Tiger is the latest version of the proven NH90 NFH (Naval Version). It has been specifically designed to match the needs of the German Navy for a state-of-the-art anti-submarine warfare helicopter. The shipborne Sea Tigers’ missions include, in addition to reconnaissance and transport, engaging targets above and below the surface. Novelties include a new Electro-Optical System and improved Electronic Support Measures (ESM) as well as the Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters (FLASH) active dipping sonar and BlueTracker sonobuoy processing system supplied by Thales. The Sea Tiger will be equipped with the lightweight, long range MBDA Marte ER ASW missile and advanced lightweight 3rd generation MU90/IMPACT anti-submarine torpedoes manufactured by EuroTorp, a consortium of French and Italian companies. A decision to integrate the NSM (Naval Standard Missile) from Kongsberg as an additional option hasn’t yet been made.

Maiden flight of NH90-MRFH Sea Tiger (registration 98+55) at the Airbus Helicopters Production Facility in Donauwörth during harsh weather conditions [©CV]

The German Bundeswehr ordered 31 NH90 Sea Tiger multi-role frigate helicopters for the German Navy’s shipborne operations in 2020. They will replace the German Navy’s ageing Mk88A Sea Lynx fleet. Deliveries are scheduled to begin at the end of 2025 and continue until 2030 with a rate of delivery of six to seven aircraft per year.

Along with the NH90-NTH Sea Lion (Naval Transport Helicopter), a German version based on the NH90-NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter), the German Naval Aviation also operates 18 NH90 in the Naval Version. These were delivered on schedule between 2019 and 2023 and replaced the Westland Sea King Helicopters that were in operation for five decades. The Sea Lion is designed for SAR missions, Transport and VertRep roles (Vertical Replenishment).

The German Naval Aviation already operates 18 NH90-NTH Sea Lion helicopters, which replaced its Westland Sea King helicopters [©CV]

Both types of the German Navy’s NH90-Helicopters, the Sea Lion as well as the new Sea Tiger, are ready for shipborne missions. While the Sea Lion will mainly be embarked on the German Navy’s Type 702 Berlin class replenishment ships, the Sea Tigers will operate from the Sachsen-class (Type F124) frigates, the Baden-Württemberg-class (Type F-125) and the future Type F126.

[images © Carsten Vennemann]

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