Military

France’s Do-It-All H160 Cheetah to Get Matching Thales Avionics

Thales' FlytX avionics suite for rotorcraft. (Thales)

Thales' FlytX avionics suite for rotorcraft. (Thales)

The French military will equip its Airbus H160 variant — the "Guépard," or cheetah — with Thales' FlytX avionics suite.

FlytX is a touchscreen-centric system that the company customizes for customer need. Thales uses one to four displays for helicopters and tailors everything from system pages to colors to the specific use.

Thales' integrated modular avionics strategy incorporates the flight management system, helicopter terrain awareness and warning system and radio management system all into FlytX, cutting down on the need for both federated hardware and dedicated controls to optimize size, weight and power (SWAP). The system integration and virtualization results in a 30-to-40 percent reduction in SWAP, according to the company, as well as a decreased need for line-replaceable units.

“Highly innovative, capable and vital for mission success, the FlytX solution from Thales will fully meet the new standards in military aviation," Thales executive vice president of aviation Gil Michielin said in a statement. "This intuitive flight deck with touchscreen interaction allows pilots to familiarise themselves with the system in record time."

A full-scale model of the Airbus H160M Guépard. (Airbus)

A full-scale model of the Airbus H160M Guépard. (Airbus)

The H160M Guépard joint light attack helicopter is France's choice to replace legacy rotorcraft throughout its services. The modular, versatile nature of the H160 platform makes it an option for the French Navy, Army and Air Force, and the military has ordered 169 of the vehicles. Originally scheduled to launch in 2021, the timeline for France's program was recently accelerated by a year. Deliveries of the H160M are expected to begin in 2026, while base H160 deliveries are expected to begin sometime this year.

The choice of the natively connected FlytX system should fit well with France's intended use: It is customizable, scalable and systems can be added as needed, which Thales stresses as one of its major benefits.

FlytX is available for fixed-wing aircraft in addition to rotorcraft, and Michielen said it will be made available for civilian helicopters as well.

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