French Defense Ministry launches development of “special forces” version of NH-90 helicopter – Aviation Report


NHIndustries and its partner companies (Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo and Fokker), have signed a firm contract with the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) for the development of an improved version of the NH90 Tactical Troop Helicopter (TTH) for the French Special Forces (TFRA 2 Standard). Under the terms of the production contract, the last batch of 10 NH90s already ordered by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, via the General Directorate of Armament (DGA), will be delivered directly to this new standard in early 2025.

The new features provide a substantial increase in the helicopter’s mission capability and clearly position the NH90 as one of the most advanced tactical troop carriers in the world, especially in harsh conditions such as sand, snow or fog.

The new TFRA Standard 2 configuration will incorporate Safran’s next-generation EuroFLIR ™ electro-optical (EOS) system with displays and controls for pilots, commandos, gunners and charge commanders. The sensors will provide outputs to undertake updated mission planning on connected screens or tablets until the moment of the sortie.

In addition to the upgraded cockpit, the cabin will be upgraded with a new system of quick removable swing doors and a quick rope beam. This will provide additional capabilities to the rear of the aircraft with protective fire from the side machine guns.

In addition to existing equipment such as M3M machine guns and external fuel tanks, other improvements to the French Army’s special forces and aviation service include a new generation digital 3D map, boarding steps folding and additional rope anchors to the ceiling.

As a second step, it is expected that a Distributed Aperture System (DAS) consisting of fixed infrared cameras displaying 3D vision in a new generation helmet-mounted digital sight display will also be incorporated, offering an unprecedented level of performance. ‘Low visibility pilot assistance, greatly improving the helicopter’s capability in degraded environmental conditions.

Nathalie Tarnaud-Laude, NH90 Program Manager at Airbus Helicopters and President of NHIndustries noted: “This opportunity brings transformative digital technologies to the NH90 that will make it even more capable of performing in precisely the kind of challenging conditions Special Forces may face today. We look forward to seeing it in service with the French Army and offering it to other NH90 customers.

Photo credits: NHI Industries, & Airbus (infographic)

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