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Netherlands buys new helicopters for special operations

The Netherlands Ministry of Defence is purchasing 14 new helicopters for special operations. The aircraft follow the Cougar transport helicopters. According to the current schedule, this will take place from the beginning of 2028. This is what State Secretary Christophe van der Maat wrote to the House of Representatives on Monday.

The purchase is one of the measures with which the Ministry of Defense is converting a squadron of the Defense Helicopter Command into a Special Operations Force (SOF). Strengthening SOF capacity for operations on land and at sea is a spearhead of the Defence Memorandum published last year.

The new helicopters are the type H225M Caracal they turned out to meet the requirements needed. Defence buys them from the European manufacturer Airbus Helicopters. Just like the Cougars, the aircraft will have Gilze-Rijen Air Base as their home base.

Included in the purchase is new mission equipment for the helicopters. Temporary simulation capacity for education and training also falls within the project.

Cougar helicopters have been in service with the Ministry of Defence for 27 years, including for the transport of troops, equipment and for the transport of wounded. A number also operate on-board naval vessels. The military organisation also uses the aircraft as a firefighting helicopter. Then a flexible water bag (bambi-bucket) hangs under the device.

The weapon system never received a major interim overhaul. This was partly due to changing insights into how to keep the device in use. An improvement project is currently underway. That extends the operational life of the current 12 Cougars to 2030.

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