German Navy receives first Sea Lion

The Marineflieger (German Navy Aviation) has taken delivery of its first NH90 Sea Lion multi-role naval helicopter, a milestone which also marks the 400th NH90 to be delivered to operators around the world.

The delivery was announced on October 24 and it is the first of 18 to be delivered, having being ordered in March 2013 as a successor to the German naval air arm's ageing Westland Sea King Mk41 fleet. A further two Sea Lions are set to be handed over by the end of 2019, with deliveries scheduled to conclude in 2022.

German Navy NH90 Sea Lion
German Navy NH90 Sea Lion 79+54 in flight. Airbus

In German service, the NH90 Sea Lion will be employed in a variety of roles, performing search and rescue (SAR), materiel/personnel transport, maritime reconnaissance tasks and supporting special forces missions. The helicopters will also operate from the Deutsche Marine's (German Navy's) Type 702 (Berlin-class) combat support ships.

Wolfgang Schoder, CEO of Airbus Helicopters Deutschland, said: “I am proud of our teams who worked hard to meet the ambitious delivery schedule of our customer, whose continuous support has also been key in making it happen... I am confident that these helicopters will bring next-generation capabilities to the German Navy, and I’m committed to ensure the best level of support for the Sea Lion fleet.”

The NH90 Sea Lion will provide German Navy helicopter crews with a more modern platform in comparison to the older Sea King helicopters. The inclusion of fly-by-wire flight controls will help reduce the crew's workload and aircraft performance over water and in poor weather conditions. 

The delivery comes after the Bundeswehr (Federal Defence Forces of Germany) announced it had halted flying operations with all NH90s delivered to Germany before 2018. This is a result of reported tail rotor problems with older aircraft that were highlighted within the industry. Checks on all rotor blades are now being made, with faulty components being replaced. Aircraft delivered from 2018 have been fitted with the new components and are cleared to fly.

As reported in the October 2019 issue of AFM, the German Navy has also selected the NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) to replace its Westland Sea Lynx Mk88A fleet. To read 'More Sea Lions for Germany' story, follow this link.