The German Parliament Budget Committee approved funds for a comprehensive software update for its existing Nato Helicopter-90 (NH90) fleets worth €217m ($232.3m) on 24 April 2024.

Calling for an option as part of an existing framework agreement, the German Government plan to expand the capabilities of the Army’s 82 tactical transport units as well as the Navy’s 18 multi-role frigate helicopters.

Specifically, the software update integrates a new multi-functional display to provide the flight altitude and other tactical information as well as systems that offer expanded navigation and identification capabilities. Moreover, there will be further improvements for the frigate variant as these units have more sensors as well as navigation and communication devices.

Swedish NH90 TTH variant, 12 February 2013. Credit: Airbus.

NH90 configurations

Developed in two versions – tactical transport (TTH) and Nato frigate helicopter (NFH) – the NH90 contains a unique, fully integrated mission system for multi-role operations in the most demanding conditions over land and sea, day and night.

More than 500 NH90s have been delivered to 18 customers in 14 countries (by the end of 2023), accumulating more than 400,000 flight hours.

Germany has both configurations. The naval variant in the latest contract refers to the existing ‘Sea Lion’ helicopter. Germany ordered 18 units in 2015, and all of them were delivered in 2023 according to GlobalData intelligence.

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The helicopters will replace the German Navy’s ageing fleet of 21 Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopters, which have been in service since 1972.

However, this naval platform should not be confused with another NFH within the German inventory named the ‘Sea Tiger’ – a more enhanced, anti-submarine warfare variant.

The government ordered 31 Sea Tigers at the end of November 2020. This configuration recently performed its maiden flight in December 2023. The German Ministry of Defence does not refer to this variant in the latest contract; the first Sea Tiger is scheduled for delivery at the end of 2025.