September 05, 2011 Tony Osborne SHEPARD GROUP
The French Navy has set up an NH90 detachment at the aircraft's future home in Lanvéoc-Poulmic naval air station in Brittany.
The detachment called 'CEPA/NH90 Lanveoc' has been set up from 1 September. The detachment's 60 personnel will coordinate evaluation, trials and crew training from the base.
It will also establish and finalise documentation that will allow the operation of the fleet by 33 Flotille, the squadron that will eventually operate the aircraft, and prepare the air station for the type when it based there from 2012.
Initial operational capability for the navy NH90s, known as Caiman in France, is planned for the end of 2011 when the aircraft takes on the search and rescue and the naval counter terrorism mission. Operational capability in the anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare role is expected in the second half of 2012.
The French Navy is set to take delivery of 27 Caiman by 2021 to replace the Super Frelon and the Lynx. The last Super Frelons were retired at the end of April 2010.
As a stopgap measure, two EC225s were urgently purchased to provide long-range SAR capability while the Super Frelons were retired and the NH90s arrived. The two EC225s are now operating with 32 Flotille, also at Lanvéoc.