The 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. State Secretary Christophe van der Maat wrote this to the House of Representatives today.
The acquisition is one of the measures with which the Ministry of Defence converts a squadron of the Defence Helicopter Command into a Special Operations Force (SOF). Strengthening SOF capabilities for land and sea operations is a spearhead of the Defence Memorandum published last year.
The new helicopters are of the type H225M Caracal. That turned out to meet the requirements. The Ministry of 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 a new mission equipment for the helicopters. Temporary simulation capacity for education and training is also part of 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 the wounded. A number also operate as on-board helicopters from naval vessels. The military organization also uses the aircraft as a firefighting helicopter. Then there is a flexible water bag (bambi bucket) under the device.
The weapon system never received a major interim refurbishment. This was partly due to changing insights about keeping the device in use. However, an improvement project is currently underway. That extends the operational life of the current 12 Cougars through 2030.