Photo Report : THR10 Faßberg
Transporthubschrauberregiment 10 'Lüneburger Heide'
September 2015 visit to Fliegerhorst Faßberg, home of the German Army's THR10 and its growing fleet of NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopters. Report and photos by Helmut Richter
A Visit to Fliegerhorst Faßberg
The municipality of Faßberg is located in the Lüneburger Heide, a sparsely populated area between Hannover and Hamburg. The Fliegerhorst (air base) of Faßberg was built in 1934. After the second world war it was initially used by the RAF and played an important role during the Berlin Airlift in 1948-1949. In 1956 the air base was handed over to the German armed forces.
In 1971, the Leichtes Heeresfliegertransportregiment 10 (Light Army Air Transport Regiment 10) was estalished at Celle from elements of other units to be equipped with the new UH-1D, which was being license built by Dornier at Friedrichshafen.
In 1980/81 the regiment moved to Faßberg as Heeresfliegertransportregiment 10, where it shared base with the Luftwaffe Technical School 3 (TSLw 3).
In 2003, the regiment assumed its current name Transporthubschrauberregiment 10 (THR10) and in 2006 the additional name Lüneburger Heide was adopted to illustrate the strong connection to the region.
With the transition to the NH90 TTH, which started in 2011, THR10 became responsible for the establishment of the Forward Air Medevac (FAM) capability in Afghanistan. THR10 continuously operated in Afghanistan in this role from April 2013 to August 2014.
In 2014, THR10 became part of the new Division Schnelle Kräfte (Quick Reaction Forces Division). In this context, the regiment started preparations for its assignment to the EU Battlegroups in 2016.
THR10 Current Status
The visit in September 2015 took place in this context. In particular, I was able to observe the training of procedures for the effective embarkment/disembarkment of infantry soldiers, which was performed in several rounds between the airbase and a local training area.
At the time of the visit, THR10 had received 17 NH90s from a planned total complement of 36. There was only one UH-1D present at Faßberg, which was on loan from the sister regiment THR30 at Niederstetten to provide a training capability for UH-1D pilots awaiting conversion. THR30 will start transition to the NH90 in 2016 and will also receive 36 helicopters.The balance of 10 NH90s to the total number of 82 will be operated in the training role by the international helicopter training centre (IHAZ – Internationales Hubschrauer Ausbildungszentrum) at Bückeburg (formerly Heeresfliegerwaffenschule – HFWS). The WTD61 (Wehrtechische Dienststelle 61), which is responsible for technical evaluations of a/c and their equipment, will not receive an own helicopter.
There is still a variety of standards for the German NH90 TTH, the main standards being IOC, IOC+ and FOC. The IOC (Initial Operational Capability) standard is only operated by IHAZ and will not be upgraded to a higher standard in the future. The regiments operate helicopters of IOC+ and FOC (Full Operational Capability) standard and these helicopters will gradually be brought to a common standard. Current deliveries are already to the FOC standard. There is also a difference in standard between the aircraft originally intended for the Luftwaffe (tactical codes 79+XX) and the Heeresflieger (78+XX). These differences mainly extend to the avionics and the self defence suite. The fleet will not be brought to one common standard in this regard. THR10 operates both versions after the Luftwaffe has transferred its NH90s to the Heeresflieger.
Twelve of THR10’s NH90s are equipped for the FAM role. In this role, two doorguns are fitted as well as stretchers and emergency medical equipment. All of THR10’s aircraft are now permanently fitted with the inlet particle separators (IPS), but there are two different exhaust standards visible in the images, i.e. with and without infrared suppression.
According to the THR10 staff, the NH90’s introduction into THR10 has been much smoother than into the Heeresfliegerwaffenschule, which started back in 2006. Many teething troubles of the NH90 seem to have been overcome and the inherent capabilities of the NH90 are now increasingly exploited. While there has been bad publicity mainly about helicopter and industry deficiencies, the service itself is accountable for it own share of the problems, in particular in training and logistics, driven by the underestimation of the helicopter’s systems complexity.
Without a doubt, the capability step from the UH-1D is immense in terms of performance (payload/range, speed, hot & high capability) as well as flexibility. Even compared with the H-60 Blackhawk, the combination of side doors and rear ramp gives higher equipment and loading versatility. On the other hand, there is the need for development of specific procedures like the ones I was able to observe. For example, one aspect is accounting for the much stronger downwash of the NH90 compared with both the UH-1D and CH-53 because of the higher rotor loading.
Another major difference compared to the previous generation helicopters is the composite structure of the NH90 and THR10 has had their first instances of typical composite damage. There are specialised composite repair teams available in the service, so in THR10’s view repairability is not a major issue.
The experience with air transportability has been excellent. An-124s have been used for deployment of the NH90 to Afghanistan and the time required for preparation and re-establishment of serviceability is only a fraction of the time required for the CH-53. The NH90 also fits into the A400M ‘s cargo hold, but the A400M has not yet been cleared for NH90 transportation. One of the potential issues is lashing to the cargo floor due to space constraints.
The visit to Faßberg revealed a high level of confidence in the further build-up of NH-90 TTH operations at THR10. This confidence not only extends to the capabilities of the helicopter and its operation, but equally into its maintainability and supportability.
My sincere thanks go to Oberstleutnant Specht, Oberstleutnant Eggert and Oberleutnant Diederich for spending their time to give detailed insights into the transition of Transporthubschrauberregiment 10 to the NH90 and provide fantastic photo opportunities.
Report and photos by Helmut Richter ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 26 February 2016