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Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4)

Medium-Lift Multi-role Transport Helicopter

France | 2020

"The Airbus Helicopter H160 will continue the sleek appearance set down by the earlier EC155 and AS365 helicopter lines."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/16/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Airbus Helicopters H160 (formerly known under the designation of "X4") is an in-development, medium-lift, multi-role helicopter attempting to take away a good portion of the market share long held by rivals AgustaWestland, Bell, and Sikorsky. Following the design lines established by previous offerings such as the AS365 "Dauphin" series, the H160 was unveiled in March of 2015 sporting a very futuristic appearance. Should all go well in development, Airbus Helicopters is eyeing delivery dates of its latest product for 2018.

Internally, the H160 seats two crew in a traditional side-by-side arrangement with plenty of window panels along the cockpit walls, floor, and ceiling for excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. The instrument panel is dominated by four 6" x 8" Multi-Function Display (MFD) touchscreens that offer pertinent operational information. Avionics will be managed through a Helionix suite. The passenger cabin is set to carry up to twelve in comfort and is set aft of the cockpit in the usual way while under the twin engine installation on the roof. The engine of choice are 2 x Turbomeda TM800 "Arrano" series turboshaft systems outputting at 1,100 shaft horsepower (the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW120E was under consideration for a time also) driving a five-blade main rotor and Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor. The main rotor blade is a next-generation composite system (termed "Composite Blue Edge") and its design features slanted blade tips which improved the vortex result, increases Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW), improves fuel economy, and lowers operating noises. All of the main rotor blades are joined along a Spheriflex rotorhead.

One of the more unique features of the H160's tail rotor beyond its obvious use of a Fenestron shroud is its slightly angled (12 degrees to starboard) position which serves as something of a secondary lift device for the helicopter while pulling double-duty as an anti-torque system. Another noteworthy design feature is implementation of a biplane wing assembly along the tail stem just ahead of the Fenestron assembly - this intended to improved low-speed flying stability.

Airbus Helicopter is currently (2015) in the process of arranging the various test components that make up the proposed H160 to prove individual systems sound before full prototype flight testing ensues. However many of these proposed systems make it into the finalized product remains to be seen. Other existing Airbus Helicopter products will serve as in-flight testbeds and be followed by three total flyable prototypes (beginning with "PT1"). Preproduction helicopters will be designated "PS1".

For the lucrative civilian market, the H160 could very well threaten competitor holds in medical, corporate, Search And Rescue (SAR), and oil and gas industries. A militarized form - the H160M - is being bandied about that would feature service modifications and some weapons support.

H160M "Guepard" ("Cheetah") - The militarized form of the X4 has gained steam within Airbus Helicopters. The type is being planned as a light-class system for multi-mission service across all major branches of the French military. The project is branded as the "Helicoptere Interarmees Leger" (HIL) translating to "Joint Light Helicopter".

The navalized model will feature Over-the-Horizon (OTH) sighting an targeting, side-mounted machine guns, an anti-ship missile capability, and protected/integrated data link with the VSR700 rotary-wing UAV and launch ship.

The Army variant will also sport a protected/integrated data link feature to communicate, in real-time, with accompanying ground forces, launch laser-guided rockets from side-mounted pods, house an Electro-Optical (EO) unit at the "chin" position, and support side-mounted automatic cannons and machine guns. Rappelling will be possible from the side fuselage doors.

The Air Force model will carry an EO set in the chin position, have side-mounting machine guns and cannon support for basic suppression, and include an in-flight refueling capability.

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In January of 2016 it was announced that the second test H160 vehicle had flown with production-quality engines (the "Arrano") installed. The flight took place on January 27th.

March 2017 - Certification for the H160 is planned for 2019. Two flyable prototypes have been completed. A third example is planned before the end of 2017.

March 2017 - The H160 has been selected by the French military for its Helicoptere Interarmees Leger (HIL) cross-service helicopter program. As many as 190 could be procured under the program and will succeed several helicopters currently in service with the French Army and Navy.

December 2017 - It was announced that Airbus had flown the third prototype of the H160 series helicopters. This particular example is notable in being closer to production-quality forms than previous iterations going airborne.

February 2018 - The French military has selected the H160 to replace six of its helicopter fleets beginning in 2028. 169 procurement examples are currently planned.

February 2018 - The H160 is expected to enter the market in the middle of 2019.

March 2018 - Babcock of Britain has been announced as the first launch customer of the H160.

September 2018 - A first-flight for the H160 is tentatively scheduled for year-end, by December 14th, according to Airbus. The flight test program will ensure throughout 2019.

May 2019 - Airbus Helicopters is pushing through an accelerated procurement process to bring the H160M military model to service. Some 169 examples are sought by the French military (Army, Navy, and Air Force). These will be designated as H160M "Guepard" ("Cheetah"). A first-flight is tentatively scheduled for 2023 with service entry to follow in 2026.

December 2019 - Test flights of the H160 have concluded.

January 2020 - The H160 nears certification as it enters final development.

February 2021 - Oil giant Shell will sponsor as many as four H160 helicopters in the Oil-and-Gas industry role across its holdings in the Gulf of Mexico. The aircraft will be handled directly by Petroleum Helicopters, Incorporated (PHi).

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Airbus Helicopters H160 Medium-Lift Multi-role Transport Helicopter.
2 x Turbomeca TM800 Arrano 1A turboshaft engines developing 1,100 shaft horsepower each while driving a five-blade main rotor and Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor.
202 mph
325 kph | 175 kts
Max Speed
19,357 ft
5,900 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
391 miles
630 km | 340 nm
Operational Range
1,750 ft/min
533 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Airbus Helicopters H160 Medium-Lift Multi-role Transport Helicopter.
45.9 ft
14.00 m
O/A Length
39.4 ft
(12.00 m)
O/A Width
13.1 ft
(4.00 m)
O/A Height
8,818 lb
(4,000 kg)
Empty Weight
13,228 lb
(6,000 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4) Medium-Lift Multi-role Transport Helicopter .
Military variants proposed with 2 x 7.62mm Medium Machine Guns (MMGs) on pintle mountings at side fuselage doors.
Notable series variants as part of the Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4) family line.
H160 - Base Series Designation; company and civilian market designation.
P1 - Initial prototype.
P2 - Second prototype.
P3 - Third prototype.
PS1 - Preproduction aircraft designation.
X4 - Original project name.
H160M - Proposed military model designation.
H160M "Guepard" - French military designation of militarized H160/H160M.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 12 Units

Contractor(s): Airbus Helicopters - France
National flag of France National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States

[ France; United Kingdom (planned); United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (202mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4)
Image from official Airbus Helicopters marketing material.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4) Medium-Lift Multi-role Transport Helicopter appears in the following collections:
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