NAHEMA and NHI announce the agreement for the Software Release 3 development for the NH90 Helicopter

Aix-en-Provence, 13th June, 2024 – The NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) and NHIndustries (NHI) announced today the signing of a major contract for the development and delivery of Software Release 3 (SWR3) for the NH90 helicopter. This milestone agreement, valued in excess of 600M€, underscores a continued commitment to enhancing the operational capabilities and performance, and extending the in-service life of the NH90 fleet.

The signing ceremony took place today at the NAHEMA headquarters in Aix-en-Provence, with the attendance of senior representatives from both organizations and NAHEMA’s countries involved in the initiative: Belgium, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands.

Major program improvement

The SWR3 is an important configuration update for the in-service NH90 helicopters, achieved as a collaboration between the NHI Partner Companies (Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo and Fokker) and major European suppliers. This new enhanced configuration further boosts the outstanding NH90 operational capabilities, featuring equipment such as the first airborne Data Link 22 on a helicopter, next-generation high definition Electro-Optical system (LEOSS-T) and Sonar (OTS-90 Mark II), civil GNSS/FMS and additional weapons integration.

More specifically, focusing on the NH90 naval version (NFH) mission capabilities, Data Link 22 will ensure secure Line-Of-Sight (LOS) and Beyond Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) communications without the use of satellites. As the first and only helicopter featuring the Link 22 standard, the NH90 will deliver unparalleled tactical information/data exchange capabilities compared to any other military rotorcraft platforms, and will be uniquely ready to respond to latest and future multi-domain scenario operations.

In addition, the introduction of the latest high-definition technologies will further enhance the maritime mission capability, particularly for long-range surveillance, target identification, acquisition, tracking and designation. The NH90 delivers a seamless integration of all the tactical information coming from its powerful Naval Mission System, now also featuring the latest generation Electro-Optical system and Sonar, while dramatically reducing the crew workload, thus ensuring the maximum effectiveness during all the most demanding missions, such as day/night MSO (Maritime Security Operations), SAR (Search And Rescue), ASuW (Anti-Surface Warfare) and ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare).

Development and implementation

The contract covers an initial development and qualification phase: this first phase will see an intense flight test activity in Tessera (Italy) on the Italian Navy and Army variants.

A second phase, which is still under finalization, will see the deployment of the SWR3 as a retrofit solution for up to over 200 NH90 helicopters. The upgrade plan will involve both naval (NFH) and terrestrial (TTH) variant of the type for the relevant customers in the four countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands.

Statements from NAHEMA and NHI Leadership

Speaking at the ceremony, NAHEMA General Manager Michael Kohlhaas expressed confidence in the collaboration, stating: “This contract marks a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to provide our armed forces with the most advanced and reliable equipment. SWR3 will undoubtedly further enhance the operational readiness and versatility of the NH90 helicopter.”

NHI President, Axel Aloccio, and NHI Managing Director, Cristian Naso, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the importance of innovation and NATO Allies contribution in the development process. “We are proud to partner with NAHEMA on this truly European cooperation project. Our focus remains on delivering sovereign state-of-the-art solutions that meet and exceed our Customers’ needs. SWR3 is a testament to our commitment to excellence, continuous improvement and strengthening of the European Defence footprint.”