France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Greece signed letters of intent to construct NATO’s next-generation helicopter earlier this week.
The five allies will participate in the program dubbed “Next-Generation Rotorcraft Capability,” or NGRC, as they are planning to replace their existing fleets starting in 2035.
Over the coming years, the nations will work together to develop “an entirely new helicopter capability” that would replace a variety of medium multi-role rotorcraft fleets which are expected to retire between 2035 and 2040.
“By investing our resources and channeling our development initiatives through a multinational framework, we are making sure allies are equipped with the best available capabilities, which helps to maintain NATO’s technological edge,” NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoană was quoted as saying in the release.
As Defense News reports, details including cost, work sharing between the five nations and specific timelines have not yet been released.
NATO envisions the defense ministers from participating countries will sign a legally-binding memorandum of understanding for the initial concept phase sometime in 2022.
As a medium multi-role rotorcraft, this new capability would assist NATO allies in missions including insertion and extraction of special operations forces, and transporting small- and medium-sized cargo and troops within operational theaters.
It would also be used in medical evacuation, search and rescue, and anti-submarine warfare, Defense News reports.