NH-90 program problems

Grey Havoc

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Via MilitaryPhotos.net: https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/nh90-europes-medium-helicopter-contender-04135/

Oct 31/14: Netherlands. Defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert report to the legislature that delays caused by late NH90-NFH deliveries and corrosion issues will cost the Dutch another EUR 105.8 million to keep the existing Eurocopter AS532 Super Puma fleet flying, on top of EUR 1.2 billion for the 20 NH90s. Neighboring Belgium has had a similar experience with its H-3s (q.v. June 6/13).

So far, the Dutch have accepted 13 NH90-NFHs, but deliveries remain suspended (q.v. June 27/14) until the corrosion problem is fixed. The Dutch MvD now expects to have a solution and finish negotiations over who should pay for this by the end of 2014 – a bit of slip from the June forecast of September 2014. The last Dutch NH90 is now scheduled for delivery in 2016. Sources: Flightglobal, “Dutch NH90 delays cost government more than €100 million”.

Oct 24/14: Germany. German media report that a June 2014 NH90 MEDEVAC flight from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan had to make an emergency landing in Termes, Uzbekistan after an engine exploded shortly after takeoff. Most electronic systems immediately failed, and the landing was a narrow escape for the pilots. The NH90 remains in place, until it can be repaired well enough for a short flight to Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, and be transported out in a leased SALIS AN-124 heavy-lift aircraft.

Engineers later found that a drive shaft in the engine was bent, and a report from engineering firm P3 says that a temporary flight ban may be needed. Analysis of numerous machines has raised concerns about engines that had been started too many times in one day, which is a serious limitation for a combat helicopter. P3’s conclusion was that the NH90s wouldn’t be able to support foreign deployments effectively until at least 2016. Sources: Die Welt, “Motor des NH90-Helikopters zu sensibel für Einsatze” | The Local – Germany, “German helicopter fleet ‘not fit for Nato’” | Eurasia.NET, “Helicopter Crash Complicates Germany-Uzbekistan Base Negotiations”.

Oct 15/14: HMD. A 1,500 page from international audit firm KPMG has lots of criticism for the Bundeswehr, and some of its details pertains especially to the NH90.

The Thales TopOwl helmet mounted display comes in for special mention, as its weight is causing pilot injuries that make them unavailable for flying. Co-pilots, who spend their time monitoring the various instruments and screens, are especially hard-hit. The helicopter also gets dinged for not having enough reliable seating, and for corrosion issues (q.v. June 27/14). Sources: Der Spiegel, “Mangel bei der Bundeswehr: Schwere Helme machen Piloten krank”.
 

TomcatViP

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Two Dutch naval officers were killed on July 19 when the NH90 helicopter in which they were flying crashed near the Caribbean island of Aruba.
Flight operations for all 19 remaining NH90 helicopters in the Dutch fleet are suspended until further notice [...]
 

yasotay

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Never good news to see. I am afraid that other than France the NH-90 is going to be a short lived service platform. I believe that Australia is also in the process of looking for other options, but they may elect to hold on till they see what comes of the US FVL program. I don't think it a bad helicopter, I think the huge number of variations that have been sold has created a nightmare logistics challenge for Airbus. I could be wrong on this. More a perception from what I have read.
 

helmutkohl

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^ same, im quite curious to why there's been so many issues with that (and also the Tiger since we're at it).
which is too bad. the NH-90 has some really beautiful lines
 

archipeppe

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Never good news to see. I am afraid that other than France the NH-90 is going to be a short lived service platform. (...)

Not exactly, even Italy has a deep engagement with NH-90 program, since a total of 60 NH-90 are foreseen for Italian Army and 46 SH-90 + 10 NH-90 are foreseen for Italian Navy.
 

EwenS

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Never good news to see. I am afraid that other than France the NH-90 is going to be a short lived service platform. I believe that Australia is also in the process of looking for other options, but they may elect to hold on till they see what comes of the US FVL program. I don't think it a bad helicopter, I think the huge number of variations that have been sold has created a nightmare logistics challenge for Airbus. I could be wrong on this. More a perception from what I have read.

The paper published at the beginning of this month on Australian Defence Plans has no mention of spending on MRH-90 Taipan, or a direct replacement for it. However from the latter part of this decade they are looking to spend money on “New investment in a squadron of long-range rotorcraft to enable land force projection and support at greater ranges”. Expenditure on that is planned to run through to 2037-ish. Note, only a squadrons worth. The document looks out to c2040. AIUI the initial problems identified by the Aussies have now been fixed. So it looks like the MRH-90 has a reasonably long life ahead of it In Australia.

More immediate plans are a replacement for the Tiger and then from 2035 a next generation rotorcraft.
 

yasotay

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More immediate plans are a replacement for the Tiger and then from 2035 a next generation rotorcraft.

Thank you for the clarification on MRH-90. Had heard some grumbling in past years. Looks like those issues have been dealt with.

As to Tiger replacement; Bell, Sikorsky, and Boeing all no doubt have their knives sharpened.
 

EwenS

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Or Airbus Helicopters with an updated Tiger. If the focus is truly on the future aircraft from 2035 or so then that option just might make sense. Unless the Aussies are completely out of love with Airbus Helicopters.
 

TomcatViP

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Interesting bit with the raise in preemptive maintenance (planified maintenance) by 60% in comparison to program plan leading to an increase of 33+% of needed airframe (10 extra airframe requested on top of the 27 ordered).

Source (in Fr) :
 

Mark Nankivil

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Never good news to see. I am afraid that other than France the NH-90 is going to be a short lived service platform. I believe that Australia is also in the process of looking for other options, but they may elect to hold on till they see what comes of the US FVL program. I don't think it a bad helicopter, I think the huge number of variations that have been sold has created a nightmare logistics challenge for Airbus. I could be wrong on this. More a perception from what I have read.

The paper published at the beginning of this month on Australian Defence Plans has no mention of spending on MRH-90 Taipan, or a direct replacement for it. However from the latter part of this decade they are looking to spend money on “New investment in a squadron of long-range rotorcraft to enable land force projection and support at greater ranges”. Expenditure on that is planned to run through to 2037-ish. Note, only a squadrons worth. The document looks out to c2040. AIUI the initial problems identified by the Aussies have now been fixed. So it looks like the MRH-90 has a reasonably long life ahead of it In Australia.

More immediate plans are a replacement for the Tiger and then from 2035 a next generation rotorcraft.
Might this be geared to a V-22 purchase? That phrase "long range" would seem to favor the V-22.

Enjoy the Day! Mark
 

yasotay

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Never good news to see. I am afraid that other than France the NH-90 is going to be a short lived service platform. I believe that Australia is also in the process of looking for other options, but they may elect to hold on till they see what comes of the US FVL program. I don't think it a bad helicopter, I think the huge number of variations that have been sold has created a nightmare logistics challenge for Airbus. I could be wrong on this. More a perception from what I have read.

The paper published at the beginning of this month on Australian Defence Plans has no mention of spending on MRH-90 Taipan, or a direct replacement for it. However from the latter part of this decade they are looking to spend money on “New investment in a squadron of long-range rotorcraft to enable land force projection and support at greater ranges”. Expenditure on that is planned to run through to 2037-ish. Note, only a squadrons worth. The document looks out to c2040. AIUI the initial problems identified by the Aussies have now been fixed. So it looks like the MRH-90 has a reasonably long life ahead of it In Australia.

More immediate plans are a replacement for the Tiger and then from 2035 a next generation rotorcraft.
Might this be geared to a V-22 purchase? That phrase "long range" would seem to favor the V-22.

Enjoy the Day! Mark
Same logic as why Indonesia would want a capability like that, it was designed for the environment. The ADF works very closely with the USMC so there is no doubt a great deal of knowledge (perhaps even an exchange pilot) regarding MV-22B. Also Australia is one of the countries that is becoming involved in the FVL program if I am not mistaken.
 

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After France inability to fill operational needs without a 30% increase in fleet size due to the low availability of their NH-90 (see my post above), Norway that faces the same problem with only 38% of availability will lease extra helicopters to fulfill SAR mission and augment helicopters force deployed aboard ships.

 

yasotay

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So would it be fair to say that Airbus, promised to much to too many to early? I mean there are how many variations that have been in development?
 

Grey Havoc

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After France inability to fill operational needs without a 30% increase in fleet size due to the low availability of their NH-90 (see my post above), Norway that faces the same problem with only 38% of availability will lease extra helicopters to fulfill SAR mission and augment helicopters force deployed aboard ships.
I was going to add this article, but it is paywalled, drats.
 

H_K

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So would it be fair to say that Airbus, promised to much to too many to early? I mean there are how many variations that have been in development?
Hard to say if it’s just a matter of overpromising and growing pains (best case) or something more fundamentally wrong and less fixable with either the design or the multinational partnership structure which maybe is reducing the incentive to properly support the helicopter’s customers (worst case).

The A400M is a case of the former, for example, as it has improved a lot and is becoming a workhorse. The NH90? I’m not so optimistic based on the public reports.
 
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aonestudio

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A defence spokesman said in a June 16 statement that, “Defence has temporarily suspended flying operations of the MRH90 helicopter fleet. Defence and Airbus Australia Pacific are currently working collaboratively to remediate this issue.

“The fleet was suspended as a safety precaution,” the statement continues. “The issue relates to the application of the helicopter’s maintenance policy in the helicopter’s IT support system. Work continues to end this suspension as soon as possible.

“Army and Navy aviation will continue to support their exercise and operational commitments with Tiger, Chinook, Black Hawk and Sea Hawk helicopters.”

 

TomcatViP

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French Lawmakers irritated by NH-90 low availability and the high cost of the program:

En 2018, le taux de disponibilité des NH-90 TTH de l’ALAT s’était élevé à 30,4% tandis que celui des NH-90 NFH avait atteint 35,5%.
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Army aviation NH-90 TTH were available at 30.4% in 2018
Naval version (NFH) at 35.5%
The report also take example of the Belgian army that withdraw their freshly acquired TTH.

 
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GTX

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TomcatViP

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Sadly the situation is even worse with the the Marine Caiman (Caiment?!): only 4 are reported operational among a fleet of 27 (15% availability) with a a reported 30 maintenance hours per flight hours needed on the field.


I am not sure if that's what Fr MoD had in mind when speaking about high intensity
 
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Archibald

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Ah merde alors, it seems that NH90 issues are serious and widespread. Clearly they seem to fail at maintenance and availability rates.
Shame, because it looked like a decent chopper.
Tiger is working well, Rafale since 2015 has unlocked its foreign, export orders... but the other "flying wonder of the 90's" seems to be is serious troubles.

This could have truly severe consequences on the Armée de Terre post-Puma / Super Puma (Caracal, whatever the name) transition era. An era that has dragged on since the 90's at least.

I wonder if the AdT shouldn't throw more Caracals into the mix, if the NH90 don't hold its promises...

Damn, since the 90's they seem to be stuck with
- antiquated Pumas, vintage 1965, in urgent need of replacement
- Super Puma / EC-225 / Caracal / whatever the name as "interim"
- superlative NH90 coming soon... but really, soon...
 

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