Beyond search and rescue missions, these aircraft leased for 10 years from Babcock will also fly for the benefit of Marine commandos and be able to carry out logistical missions.
H160: around twenty interventions in two and a half months
In two and a half months, the first operational detachment (opened on July 20/Editor’s note) of the 32F flotilla in Cherbourg will have already carried out around twenty interventions, in its core business, search and rescue at sea (SAR) but also medical transfer (from the Channel Islands) and the fight against maritime pollution. This first assessment is rather encouraging in a helicopter component of the Navy which is not always celebrating, with availability too low for the Caïman Marine, and the growth concerns of the other interim fleet, the Dauphin Flihper (12 term devices).
Each detachment has two full crews
The first four aircraft fly between 30 and 50 hours per month, making it possible to meet both training needs and operational requests in Cherbourg, and soon in Lanvéoc-Poulmic (by the end of the year) then in Hyères (in the first quarter of 2024). Each detachment has two complete crews (a co-pilot, a captain, winch operator/camera operator and a diver who is also a technician) and two naval technicians for implementation, with the shared presence of two Babcock employees: this minimal system allows you to keep the alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
With a central portion in Lanvéoc-Poulmic which will have four crews for the training, regeneration and overall operation of the 32F, the eventual format of the flotilla will reach 10 crews for a total of around sixty sailors. At this stage, there is “no consideration for raising alert on other plots”, explains to Air et Cosmos the pasha of the 32F, Lieutenant Commander Sébastien Bayet, holder of 2,300 flight hours. on Lynx, Dolphin, Alouette III. He is also one of the most experienced on the H160FI, with already 200 flight hours, including more than 60 at night.
The device continues its capacity growth
The device continues its capacity growth: it is already qualified to be able to operate marine commando snipers, even if the 12.7 mm caliber is not authorized, due to lack of a dedicated mount. Another area which interests the commandos, aerorope, the field of which has been opened, remains to be fully qualified. The experimentation of transporting heavy loads under a sling will be “tested in the coming weeks”. It will offer up to 1600 kg over very short distances, less if it is necessary to go further. The first machine delivered will also have to have its electric brakes retrofitted, the standard now being hydraulic. If it had to last at sea, or go further than the planned 150 nautical nautical miles of action radius (with 15 minutes in the area), the H160 can also refuel on a naval ship at sea. “Landing n “is not a priority but is part of the spectrum of Navy pilots, so the crews practice it regularly”, confirms CC Bayet.