French Navy to receive its first Airbus Helicopters H160

According to information published by Opex 360 on September 17, 2022, the French Navy is about to receive its first Airbus Helicopters H160 to replace its Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopters.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Airbus Helicopters H160 (Picture source: Airbus)

The Airbus Helicopters H160 (formerly X4) is a medium utility helicopter being developed by Airbus Helicopters. Formally launched at Heli-Expo in Orlando, Florida on 3 March 2015, it is intended to replace the AS365 and EC155 models in the firm's lineup. In June 2015, the first test flight took place. It received its EASA type certification in July 2020, and first deliveries were in December 2021.

The Airbus Helicopters H160 takes advantage of several advanced manufacturing technologies and materials in order to produce a lighter, more efficient design.

One weight-saving measure was the replacement of conventional hydraulic landing gear and brakes with electrical counterparts, the first helicopter in the world to do so; according to Airbus the elimination of hydraulic components makes the rotorcraft both lighter and safer.

In 2015, Airbus claimed that the all-composite H160 would deliver the same basic performance as the rival AgustaWestland AW139 while being a ton lighter, having a lower fuel consumption, and offering 15–20% lower direct operating costs.

The composite fuselage also provided for greater design freedom of the rotorcraft's external styling. During the aircraft's development, features such as full de-icing equipment and a fly-by-wire control system, were deemed too heavy or costly for the benefits involved and were eliminated.

The H160 is the first rotorcraft to feature the Blue Edge five-bladed main rotor. This incorporates a double-swept shape that reduces the noise generation of blade-vortex interactions (BVI), a phenomenon that occurs when the blade impacts a vortex created at its tip, resulting in a 3–4 dB noise reduction and raising the effective payload by 100 kg (220 lb) compared with a scaled Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin rotor design.

Aerodynamic innovations include a biplane tailplane stabiliser for greater low speed stability, and a quieter canted fenestron which combined produce an extra 80 kg of lift.

The H160 features the Helionix avionics suite, the cockpit being equipped with a total of four 6 in × 8 in (15 cm × 20 cm) multifunctional displays.