The NH90 – developed by Europe’s NHIndustries partnership (Airbus Helicopters, Agusta Westland, and Fokker) – was designed to meet NATO’s requirement for a modern medium-sized multi-role military helicopter for both land and maritime operations.
The common core vehicle for the tactical troop transport (TTH) and the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) versions is a twin-engine aircraft incorporating innovative features such as a full glass cockpit and fly-by-wire control system with four-axis autopilot and advanced mission flight aids, 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 an endurance increase of 30% 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.
The NH90’s NFH version is the primary maritime weapon system in a surface fleet’s defense. Operating from shore bases or on surface vessels up to sea state 5, the helicopter is tailored for both anti-submarine (ASW) and anti-surface unit (ASuW) warfare. Search and rescue operations can be performed in either of these configurations.
Complementary roles include maritime surveillance and control, airborne warning control, logistic transport and utility support, vertical replenishment (VERTREP),
casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) and special operations – including counter terrorism and anti-piracy.
The NH90 can be configured to launch anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and sonobuoys, while the NFH version can be equipped with one anti-ship missile and one torpedo simultaneously.
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. Once aboard the ship, the NH90’s traversing system facilitates its maneuvering on deck to and from hangar.