Airbus NH90 Sea Tiger Naval Helicopter Makes First Flight

The multi-role frigate helicopter destined for the German Navy will now enter flight testing, Airbus said.

Germany’s navy has 31 NH90 Sea Tigers on order. [Courtesy: Airbus]

Airbus' NH90 Sea Tiger multi-role frigate helicopter variant designed for Germany's navy made its first flight Thursday, the aircraft manufacturer announced.

The maiden flight occurred at Airbus Helicopters' production facility in Donauwörth, Germany. The aircraft will now enter a qualification phase that includes flight testing with newly installed systems before deliveries begin by the end of 2025.

The aircraft is the newest variant of the Airbus NH90 naval helicopter, which is already in use in six countries for search and rescue and military operations. The Sea Tiger variant designed for the German military is equipped with anti-submarine warfare technology including a dipping sonar, sonobuoys, and weapons, such as torpedoes and missiles for engaging targets above and below the surface. 

In 2020, Germany's military, known as Bundeswehr, ordered 31 NH90 Sea Tigers for the German Navy to replace its aging fleet of Mk88A Sea Lynx. The military already operates 18 NH90 Sea Lion naval transport helicopter variants, Airbus said.

"Operating both the NH90 Sea Lion and the Sea Tiger will allow the Navy to further streamline its operations and maintenance," said Stefan Thomé, managing director of Airbus Helicopters in Germany. "The NH90 Sea Lion, which is already in service with the Navy, has recently proven its capabilities during a first major rescue operation in the North Sea.”

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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