The NH90 helicopter fleet, operated by the Qatar Emiri Air Force, has completed just over a year of activity showing outstanding performance, effectiveness, and operational serviceability.
The first TTH (Tactical Troop Transport) aircraft was delivered in December 2021 and the first two NFHs (NATO Frigate Helicopter) were delivered together in March 2022. With the deliveries continuing at rate of just over one helicopter every two months, before the end of November 2022 four helicopters had been delivered and were fully operational in Qatar. Currently, the fleet counts nine helicopters in-service, four TTH and five NFH.
These first NH90s, out of a total of 28 units on order in a mix of 16 TTH for land operations and 12 NFH for naval missions, logged more than 700 flight hours in 2022, with nearly 200 flight hours of which in the last two months of the year supported major events in Qatar. The fleet reached its first 1,000 flight hours operational milestone on 28th February 2023. Missions included primarily troop transport and utility, search and rescue, and surveillance, among others. In 2022 the fleet showed an average serviceability above 80%, with a focus on collaboration between the operator and industry on the overall support and maintenance activities.
The Qatar Emiri Air Force is one of the few NH90 end users to operate both the TTH and NFH versions of the NH90 for a number of land operations and naval missions. Leonardo is prime contractor for the overall programme and is also responsible for the final assembly and delivery of the 12 NH90 NFH helicopters from its Venice Tessera facility, and provides on-site support to the Air Force, including engineers, skilled technicians, logistics specialists and instructors, during the first years of entry into service of the fleet. The company is also supplying simulators, training aids and an extensive maintenance support and training services package for aircrews and maintenance technicians. Airbus Helicopters is responsible for carrying out the final assembly of the 16 NH90 TTH aircraft. Deliveries will continue through to 2025.
Leonardo contribution to the NH90 helicopter
Leonardo is responsible for, or contributes to, the design, production and integration of a wide range of critical NH90 components and systems. These include the rear fuselage, main gear box hydraulic system, upper modes of the Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), plant management system, power plant integration, NFH mission system (integrating sonar, radar, electro-optics, tactical link, electronic warfare system, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator, mission video recording and weapon systems management including air-to-surface missiles and torpedoes for Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and Anti-Submarine (ASW) missions. Leonardo also integrates additional capabilities such as the Laser Obstacle Avoidance Monitoring (LOAM) system and the LEOSS-T electro-optical system (also selected by the German Navy for their new NH90 Multi Role Frigate Helicopter Programme), as well as pintle-mounted Gatling-type guns, for specific customers.
The NH90 helicopter
The largest military helicopter programme in Europe, the NH90 is the optimal choice for modern operations thanks to its fully composite airframe with a large cabin, its excellent power-to-weight ratio and its wide range of role equipment. It features a quadruplex fly-by-wire flight control system for reduced pilot workload and enhanced flight handling characteristics. The NH90 is available in two main variants: one specified for naval operations, the NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) and the TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) for land-based operations. As of today, around 490 NH90 helicopters, a mixture of both variants, are in-service worldwide carrying out missions in a wide range of weather and environmental conditions, over land and sea.