On 26 January 2023, the Bundeswehr delivered the last of a total of 18 multi-purpose helicopters of the type NHNATO Helicopter-90 NTHNaval Transport Helicopter Sea Lion inherited. In 2015, the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBwFederal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support) ordered series delivery to the Navy is thus completed on time and within budget. In the background is always an in-depth quality assurance.
By the Sea Lion is the NATO helicopter 90, short NHNATO Helicopter-90, in the usage variant Naval Transport Helicopter (NTHNaval Transport Helicopter). Delivered since 2018, it replaces the helicopter that has been in use for almost 50 years Mk41 Sea King. After handing over the last NHNATO Helicopter-90 NTHNaval Transport Helicopter the new, state-of-the-art helicopter is expected to take over search and rescue duties from mid-2023 SARSearch and Rescue initially take over in parallel operation. In addition, the Sea Lion, As in the past, the Sea King, in its main military task for the transport of material or persons. In addition, with its far-reaching sensors, it can also be used for reconnaissance and thus make an important contribution to situational awareness.
“I am very pleased that with the delivery of the 18. Sea Lion The basis has now been created for successively exploiting the great potential of this new weapon system,” the project manager assesses in the BAAINBwFederal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support, Director at the BAAINBwFederal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support Axel H., the completion of series delivery.
“We are thus completing another major step in the modernization of naval aviation,” said the commander of the Naval Air Commands, Kapitän zur See Broder Nielsen, about the handover date. “Now all the helicopters are there and now it’s about accelerating training and using the machines delivered to us to develop a modern, flexible maintenance concept that is as modern as possible in order to quickly achieve full operational readiness.”
Multinational helicopter project with national characteristics
The NHNATO Helicopter-90 is based on the harmonized demands of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, which NATO adopted in 1992. Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA). This development was supplemented by national adaptations that depended on the specific usage requirements of the respective countries.
The basis for the procurement of the NHNATO Helicopter-90 product family is a development and procurement contract between NAHEMA and the industry consortium NHNATO Helicopter-Industries from the year 2000. Subsequently, the Federal Ministry of Defence and the manufacturers Airbus Helicopters Germany agrees, also 18 NHNATO Helicopter-90 NTHNaval Transport Helicopter for the Navy.
The project organization for the weapon system NHNATO Helicopter-90 is part of Group L8 of the Air Division in the BAAINBwFederal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support domiciled. This makes it suitable for the development, procurement and exploitation activities of all NHNATO Helicopter-90 of the Bundeswehr – both the army and the navy.
In order to identify potential challenges in the introduction of the Sea Lion to master, the BAAINBwFederal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support and the navy in Nordholz worked very closely together from the beginning. This coordination between office and user as well as efficiently adapted processes have made it possible to master many challenges quickly and consistently.
In addition, industry experts were involved at the user’s site. This improved their responsiveness to unpredictable questions in technical operation. The material situation for the weapon system is also improving because the Bundeswehr and industry put the supply of spare parts and ground support equipment on a new basis by concluding a contract for performance-based logistics.
In-depth quality assurance is essential
When it comes to quality assurance, the Centre for Technical Quality Management (ZtQCenter for Technical Quality Management) in the BAAINBwFederal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support is of particular importance. It supports the project areas in the other departments during procurement with official quality assurance directly on site at industry. In the case of procurement of the NHNATO Helicopter-90 NTHNaval Transport Helicopter the Donauwörth regional office was responsible for accompanying and advising the project management in the BAAINBwFederal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support responsible.
Official quality assurance, also known as quality testing, includes the risk-based monitoring of quality management measures of a contractor after conclusion of the contract. This also includes the corresponding contributions in the logistics and accounting processes. This means that technical, contractual and budgetary Know-how has to come from a single source in order to check the products ordered by the project management and implement the contracts.
The ZtQCenter for Technical Quality Management-Aviation experts from Donauwörth can carry out tests in accordance with national and European aeronautical standards as well as NATO requirements at any time. This takes place both during production and during the contractually agreed acceptance phase of the highly complex helicopter. The helicopters completed by the industry were subjected to thorough overall system inspections and flight tests by the inspection teams. Pilots from the Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Flugzeug und Luftfahrtgerät in Manching (WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 61) the experts of the department ZtQCenter for Technical Quality Management supported.
On the basis of many years of experience, the testing team of the BAAINBwFederal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support this is the contractually agreed quality of products and services for the Bundeswehr.