Tuesday, May 31, 2016


For what seems like aeons the Belgian Navy used either the light Alouette chopper or the Seaking. These days have finally come to an end, with the introduction of the NH90, NFH version (NATO Frigate Helicopter; the Army version is called the TTH, for Tactical Transport Helicopter).

NHIndustries is a European consortium with shares held by Airbus Helicopters, Fokker Aerostructures, and AgustaWestland. The NH90 is a medium-sized, full fly-by-wire, twin-engined multi-role chopper. In the Belgian Navy, its reached initial operational readiness in August 2015.

Between 18 and 24 May, a Caiman, as it is commonly referred to instead of the NH90, conducted tests on board the frigate Leopold I: takeoff/land, dataconnections during flight, a simulated crash, manoeuvring in the hangar, and recce flights. Pic taken somewhere on the North Sea:

 photo caiman_LeopoldI_zpstcdudtcx.jpg

Some specs:

* a crew of 2 pilots, with possibly a sensor operator (not on TTH)
* capacity: 20 seated troops; or 12 medevac stretchers; or 2 NATO pallets; or 4,200 kg (9,260 lb) external slung load
* Length: 16.13 m (52 ft 11 in)
* Rotor diameter: 16.30 m (53 ft 6 in)
* Height: 5.23 m (17 ft 2 in)
* Empty weight: 6,400 kg (14,100 lb)
* Useful load: 4,200 kg (9,260 lb)
* Max. takeoff weight: 10,600 kg (23,370 lb)
* Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-01/9 turboshaft, 1,662 kW (2,230 shp) each, or:
Powerplant: 2 × General Electric T700-T6E turboshaft, 1,577 kW (2,115 shp) each
* Maximum speed: 300 km/h (162 knots, 186 mph)
* Range: 800 km, 497 mi (TTH); 1,000 km, 621 mi (NFH) ()
* Service ceiling: 6,000 m (20,000 ft)
* Rate of climb: 8 m/s (1,574 ft/m)
* Armament: anti-submarine and/or air to surface missiles for the NFH version, 2x door gun for the TTH version

I recall that some two years ago some concerns were raised regarding the naval types' reportedly excessive corrosion problems; this was following a deployment of the first two Dutch NH90's to the Carribean. But these problems seem to have been solved. At any rate, the corrosion issues can't have been in either airframe or rotors, since these are made of advanced composites.


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