Industries (NHI) and the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) have signed a contract to launch the development and qualification of the NH90 Block 1 upgrade (also known as Software Release 3). NAHEMA acted on behalf of Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. This programme is part of the NH90 evolution roadmap and constitutes a major upgrade in terms of capabilities for both the TTH and NFH variants of the NH90 combat helicopter.

“The signature of the SWR3 contract, which marks the launch of the NH90 Block 1 upgrade, is an important milestone for the NH90 programme and is a clear sign that our NATO customers trust the NH90 and plan on operating it for many more decades to come,” said Axel Aloccio, President of NHI and Head of NH90 Programme at Airbus Helicopters. “We have a clear plan to extend the life span of the NH90 up to 50 years and we will need to upgrade the aircraft to make sure it stays relevant on the battlefield of tomorrow. The Block 1 programme will cover the next ten to fifteen years. Beyond that horizon, we are also planning the Block 2 upgrade that will define the future evolutions of the platform and ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the battlefield of tomorrow”, he added.

The first phase of this 600 million Euro programme includes an upgrade of the NH90 communication suite and the integration of Data Link 22 allowing beyond line-of-sight interoperability without going through satellite communications. IFF Mod 5 Level 2 (the latest version of the device used  to identify and track military aircraft) will also be integrated. Other upgrades will be available to the operators and include the integration of a latest generation electro optical system, a new dipping sonar and the integration of the MK 54 torpedo and the Marte ER anti-ship missile. The NH90 Block 1 will be able to navigate with a civil grade global navigation satellite system (GNSS) and flight management system. The second phase of the programme, which is currently under finalisation, will consist of the deployment of the Block 1 configuration improvements on approximately 200 NH90s, both NFH and TTH, in total.

NH Industries is the largest rotorcraft joint venture and it is responsible for the design, manufacturing and support of the NH90 helicopter, one of the leaders in the latest generation of military helicopters. The Company takes the best from the European rotorcraft and defence industry, being owned by Airbus Helicopters (62.5%), Leonardo (32%) and GKN Fokker (5.5%). Each company has a long aerospace pedigree and brings the top of its skills and expertise to the end product.


For Editorial Inquiries Contact:
Editor Kym Bergmann at

For Advertising Inquiries Contact:
Director of Sales Graham Joss at

Previous articleBundeswehr orders 1,515 military trucks from Rheinmetall
Next articleAdarga acquires J2X Solutions


    • Amazing, isn’t it? To be fair, a small number of countries have experienced problems, with Norway top of the list. However, no one other than Australia has been so criminally stupid as to destroy their entire fleet because they couldn’t make them work properly.

      • M.Alleyn: A 30 second google search will disprove your statement that “no other country has any problems with NH90”.

        Kym: I noticed an error in your reply too. You wrote “a small number of” instead of “every”.

        • No, I dispute that. It is like saying every country has a problem with the F-35. Every country is realising that F-35s are more expensive to support and less reliable than originally promised, but who is cutting them up and burying them? We have had this discussion before and the point is fairly simple – why do they remain in production and why does almost every user anticipate operating them until about 2040 – with, as I wrote, some minor exceptions such as Australia. Most operators – again with the notable exception of Australia – understand that NH90s are expensive to operate because they are very complex 5th generation helicopters, with performance to match.

          • You said “a small number of countries have experienced problems”. That is false. Every country has experienced problems. The French have had the equivalent of a parliamentary inquiry, the Germany Army and Navy have formally complained to NAHEMA, and four countries have or will abandon the program.

            They are very technologically impressive helicopters and the decision to acquire them was rational. But so was the decision to divest. It was a project of concern from 2011.

        • New Zealand has had nothing more than teething problems. In fact New Zealand’s small fleet of 8 have flown more hours per frame than any other country. And that’s despite being so far from the manufacture.

          • The RNZAF recorded 34% serviceability in 2024, down from 68% in 2022 and 51% in 2023. This was attributed to staff shortages, elevated flying rates and overseas deployments (aka using the aircraft for the purpose they were acquired).

            The RNZAF managed excellent availability until they didn’t. Until the program was truncated, Australia led the world in total hours flown.

            Every operator has had problems with the NH90. I don’t know what is to be gained by pretending otherwise.

          • Thanks for that additional information. Availability rates fluctuate depending on circumstances – and on a few occasions I’ve given the example of the global F-35 fleet. You don’t fix the problem of poor availability by destroying them, you tackle the issues – as difficult and frustrating as that can be.

  1. Reply to JB . I did read that article and if you had read it properly, it was referring to a totally different version of the NH90 Australia operated and it was mostly logistical supply train problems.

  2. When it comes to the effectiveness of Defence Helicopters, there seems to be an ongoing situation where cost and availability in Helicopter support is the “Norm” not the exception. Thus these platforms are generally on the back foot, so if you want a Redheaded Step Child of a platform, then Defence is all to savvy in that dept.

  3. Michael, there is almost no difference between the Australian MRH90 and any other land-based NH90 other than radios and mission equipment (hoists, seating, gun mounts etc). The Nordics had a high cabin, but the dynamic components are all identical. There are quite a few differences between the naval variant and the land variant, but as you say, all are affected by similar supply chain issues

  4. In regards the Taipan crash Enquiry.
    The ADF doesn’t want the IGADF to look into the actions of the crew that night, the helmet-mounted sight display, night vision systems or “human factors”.
    Nor does Defence want Margaret McMurdo’s inquiry looking into fatigue management, flight supervision or authorisation, aviation risk management, aircrew training, aircraft design and certification, engineering, maintenance and “crash survivability”.
    So what is the ADF trying to hide?

    • Thanks – that’s a very interesting article and I agree with all of it. In the discussions what we are having online it seems to be a glass half empty or full situation. I read the numbers as showing that the large majority of users are satisfied with what they are getting – despite some complaints – and are smaller number are not. Maybe the Norwegians will follow the Australian example and dump their air frames in a fjord to do what? Demonstrate how unhappy they are?

  5. I do agree with you somewhat Kym, in that we don’ t fix problems by not fixing problems, if that makes sense. Although there can come a point where one has to cut ones losses and run. I don’t know enough about the ADF Taipans/Helos to comment.
    However, I remember reading somewhere once that at the beginning of its life, the F16 Falcon had a nickname of “The Plough”, because so many were crashing (into fields) due to Aircraft issues. But look at it now.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here