Accustomed to the fact that khaki army helicopters fly overhead, the inhabitants of Plen de Mor will have to get used to the gray.
Arriving directly from the Airbus Helicopters plant in Marignan on May 17, the new plane landed at the Babcock site in Cannes de Mor. And what a car! This is the H160, or rather the first aircraft of this type, designed for the French Navy. Hence its somewhat unusual livery for the plain of Var.
This is not the only feature of the new device. Despite the fact that this H160 is designed to join the French Navy (probably in September next year), this H160 is indeed completely civilian. “This car in the standard transport version was purchased by Babcock, who then leased it to the French Navy. The ten-year contract with the French Armaments Directorate for the French Navy stipulates that Babcock will supply six modified H160 helicopters and keep them operational.explains Alexander Marrier, Babcock’s H160 project manager.
If the first of the six H160s just released from the factory is present in Cannet-des-Maures, it is to undergo the thirteen modifications requested by the French Navy. Among them, the main one is the installation of a Euroflir 400 optocoupler from Safran, equipped with an infrared camera with a range of 8 to 10 km.
In the event of a terrorist attack at sea, on board a ferry or ocean liner, these devices can be used to transport manpower.
Other modifications: installation of a removable medical wall containing a viscosity aspirator, defibrillator, syringe pump or even a stand for oxygen cylinders. Bypassing the plane through Le Cannet-des-Maures is also an opportunity to protect your floor with armor plates.
Funny idea for devices, mainly designed for surveillance and rescue missions at sea (Search and Rescue). “In the event of a terrorist attack at sea, on board a ferry or ocean liner, these devices can be used to transport manpower.“, Says Alexander Marier.
It is to be believed that the soldiers have not forgotten the death of Lieutenant Damien Buate, who was fatally shot by a bullet that crossed the floor of his Gazelle on the first day of Operation Serval in Mali in January 2013 …
The entire fleet of six people
In the end, we plan to recruit 25 people
The H160 will pass through Babcock’s Var workshops, which already service and operate more than 50% of French Samu’s helicopters. “The point that is credited when concluding a contract with DGA“, says Vincent Delebeck, director of industrial operations. To cope with this increase in activity, Babcock is recruiting on its website Var, which already has about a hundred employees.
“We have already hired four mechanics and two members of the avionics team, but we plan to hire 25 people in the long run.“- says Vincent Delebek.
But Babcock sees further and is already thinking about continuing the program with the acquisition by the French army of 169 H160, in a more military version dubbed Cheetah. “For us, these first six devices will in some way serve as a demonstration of the arrival of cheetahs. We will be able to make big data, record as much data as possible“, Says Alexander Marier.
Delivery of the first cheetahs to the army is scheduled for 2026-2027, 2028 for the Navy.