ALBACETE, Spain: This morning a ceremony was held for the maiden flight of the first NH90 to be assembled by Eurocopter España at its facility in Albacete. The event was attended by María Dolores de Cospedal, President of the Regional Government of Castile-La Mancha, Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés, Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling and the CEO of Eurocopter España, Francisco Vergé, among other political and military officials.
Following the two NH90 GSPA prototypes manufactured in Marignane (France), which are currently in Spain for the testing and certification campaign of the Spanish version, the NH90 GSPA03 will be the first helicopter to be delivered to the Spanish Army Airmobile Force (FAMET) in 2013 under the contract signed in 2006.
This represents a major milestone for Spain, which now assumes a role as a helicopter manufacturer together with its partners, France and Germany. Eurocopter España’s site in Albacete will be fully involved in the entire life cycle for these helicopters, from the design stage through to flight testing and certification, component manufacture, the final assembly line and integrated support.
The NH90 program, promoted by the Spanish Secretariat of Defense through the Directorate-General of Armament and Equipment (DGAM), is the first to supply all three branches of the Spanish armed forces. It will provide Spain’s military with an advanced helicopter transport system and associated technology, with Spanish participation not only in the manufacture of the helicopter itself but also in other areas such as installation of the electronic warfare systems, simulation equipment, automated test benches and engine assembly.
Produced in two basic versions – the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) – this 11-metric-ton class rotary-wing aircraft provides a common platform for army, navy and air force roles, enabling countries to rationalize their helicopter fleets while also organizing training and support on a larger scale, with flexible management of personnel and equipment. Its large cabin, rapid access and quick role-change capability ensures mission flexibility for multiple operational scenarios.
To date, a total of 529 NH90s have been ordered by 14 nations, of which 418 are for the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) version. Six NH90 final assembly lines are now operational in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Finland and Australia under direction of the pan-European NHIndustries industrial organization comprising Eurocopter (62.5%), AgustaWestland (32%) and Fokker Aerostructures (5.5%).
136 NH90s have been delivered to the armed forces of customer nations and the helicopter has logged more than 31,000 flight hours, including service in conflict zones such as Afghanistan.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace and defense-related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approximately 22,000 people. In 2012, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 6.3 billion Euros, orders for 469 new helicopters and a 38 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors.