The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) will purchase eight additional H225M helicopters and a second VSR700 prototype. First deliveries of the H225Ms, which will be operated by the French Air and Space Force, are scheduled to start in 2024
The stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry, announced by the French government last year, also includes the purchase of two H145 helicopters for the Sécurité Civile and ten H160 helicopters for the French Gendarmerie Nationale.
The VSR700 is an unmanned aerial system being developed for the French Navy in partnership with Naval Group. The VSR700 is based on the Cabri G2 light helicopter built by local SME Hélicoptères Guimbal. The first prototype of the VSR700 performed its maiden flight last year and has recently begun expanding its flight envelope.
The worldwide market for helicopters shrunk 50% in 2020 due to the pandemic; the orders by the French government will help secure 960 jobs during the next three years for Airbus helicopters and its suppliers.
“We are very thankful to the French government for their support of the aeronautical industry through the Stimulus plan. This is a win-win situation as the aircraft fulfill a real operational need for the French armed forces and this order allows Airbus Helicopters to secure jobs and key skills in the medium term,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO.
The contracts will benefit the French helicopter industry as a whole, including other key French aerospace providers such as Safran Helicopters Engines with the H225M’s Makila 2A engines, Safran Power Units with the Saphir 20 auxiliary power unit, Safran Electronic Defense with the electro-optical system Euroflir 410M NG and the Sigma inertial navigation system, and Thales with the VUHF radio TRA6034 and IFF transponder TSC4000. But with more than 300 French Tier 1 suppliers involved in the H225M’s supply chain, the contract will also benefit a variety of small and medium enterprises.
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