The French defense procurement agency, General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) notified the contract for the development and supply of three new generation test bench helicopters (HBE NG) to the consortium formed by Airbus Helicopters and Héli-Union, on August 3.
This contract will contribute to the renewal of the test bench helicopter fleet (HBE) of the DGA Flight Tests test center.
Produced on the basis of the H225 civilian helicopter (latest version of the Super Puma family from Airbus Helicopters), these three HBE NG will enable DGA Flight Tests to guarantee the continuity of its missions before the gradual withdrawal from service of the Puma helicopters whose average age is 48 years.
To ensure flight tests for the development and qualification of equipment and future weapon systems, DGA Flight Tests uses a diversified fleet of specially instrumented test bench helicopters (four Puma SA330s, four Dauphin SA 365, three Fennec AS 550), to ensure a wide perimeter including missiles, optronic sensors, electronic warfare and electromagnetic detection equipment and safety-rescue-parachuting equipment.
Héli-Union will deliver the three “unmodified” helicopters to the DGA after a maintenance visit. Airbus Helicopters will then carry out the development work for the test bench modifications as well as the modification sites. Their support will be provided by contracts from the Aeronautical Maintenance Department (DMAé).
Delivery of the first HBE NG is scheduled for early 2024.