Militaers ever call helicopters helicopters

Almost like from another world: 87 new helicopters in 15 years

Lutz Bertling doesn't often hear that much praise. The helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter, enthused Interior Secretary Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, has always understood how to respond to the wishes of its customers and helicopter users and to deliver on time. Federal Police President Matthias Seeger and the flying personnel of the Federal Police also did not save with words of praise when Eurocopter boss Bertling and his employees handed over the last two EC155 helicopters of a completely renewed helicopter fleet to the police on Wednesday (yesterday).

To an observer of the military helicopter use in particular, the ceremony looked like an event from another world. Eurocopter, the supplier of attack helicopters tiger and NH90 transport helicopters, which are not put into service by the Bundeswehr until years later and are supposed to go into action, as a shining example for cooperation in a complicated procurement project - that seems unthinkable in olive.

Federal police officers in front of an EC155 helicopter on the premises of the Fliegerstaffel in Blumberg near Berlin

In December 1997, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Police signed the procurement contract with Eurocopter, and less than 15 years later, all 87 new helicopters ordered have been delivered: 65 helicopters for police use, from transporters to surveillance helicopters with thermal imaging cameras and real-time data transmission, 16 for disaster control and air rescue and six Training helicopter.

In view of such news, the armed forces and the defense ministry are likely to pull their hair out. The NH90 transport helicopter is named because of the 1990s of the last century when it was designed. But just like the tiger - in an urgently needed version to rescue wounded soldiers - it should not go into action until 2013 at the earliest.

Why are there such huge differences between the apparently problem-free delivery to the Federal Police and the years of delays in equipping the Bundeswehr? This is what I asked Eurocopter boss Bertling on the sidelines of the handover ceremony:

What Bertling cannot say, of course, is that the troop's procurement process is much more complicated. From the order to the acceptance test.
Interior State Secretary Fritsche had an explanation ready in his celebratory speech, which the colleagues in the Bendlerblock might not like very much either: When it came to procurement, the ministry weighed between one revolutionary new development and a proven pattern with build-up potential: We opted for the second route, although other parts of the federal administration in the aircraft sector have often made different decisions. (Despite intense thought, I couldn't think of any parts of the federal administration that operate a helicopter fleet, apart from the armed forces and the federal police.)
The reasons that Fritsche gave for the comprehensive modernization of the fleet, on the other hand, seemed very familiar to me: the aging of the helicopters (the Alouette 2 According to his information, the then Federal Border Police flew for around 40 years), the installation of modern sensors and real-time data transmission, night flight capability, all-weather suitability, fuel-saving and thus more cost-effective and environmentally friendly operation. And of course the increased demands of special workers: For the GSG9, they are an indispensable tool for dealing with terrorist situations.

As for the view that the helicopters delivered to the police are essentially off the shelf and can therefore be delivered more quickly and cheaply than the special requests of the military: An expert from the federal police pointed out to me that the police officers also implement numerous special requests for their helicopters to have. In an EC135 with thermal imaging camera and real-time data link, said the expert, not only around 20 radio antennas are installed. But also three times as many meters of cable as in the standard model.