The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the launch of the Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger; HIL) program has been brought forward to 2021. The HIL program, for which the Airbus Helicopters’ H160 was selected in 2017, was initially scheduled for launch in 2022 by the current military budget law. Launching the program earlier will enable delivery of the first H160Ms to the French Armed Forces to be advanced to 2026.
Showcased at Paris Airshow
During a visit to the Airbus Helicopters headquarters, the Minister also revealed the full-scale mock-up of the H160M that will be presented on the Ministry of the Armed Forces stand at the next Paris Air Show. The helicopter was also given its official name and will be designated as “Guépard” (“Cheetah”) by the French Armed Forces.
The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL program.
Built around a platform that will enter service next year, the HIL program will benefit from many of the advantages inherent in the civil H160, particularly in terms of support, with simplified maintenance and lower operating costs than the previous generation of helicopters in this category.