Joined: Sep 16, 2006 Posts: 736 Location: North England
Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:33 am Post subject: Delays in Dutch NH90 deliveries create SAR headache
November 18, 2010
The Netherlands government is considering contracting in some level of night-time search and rescue (SAR) capability due to delays in the delivery of NH90 multirole helicopters.
Capt Rik Janssen, NH90 Transition Manager for the Netherlands Defence Helicopter Force, told delegates at the Heli-Power 2010 conference in London on 17 November that if Lynx helicopters are retired from SAR duties as planned there would be a gap in SAR provision along the Dutch coastline for six months as there would not be enough NH90 crews trained and available for SAR operations. Daytime SAR coverage would continue to be provided by the AB412 helicopters.
The Netherlands has ordered 20 NH90s - 12 of the aircraft are in the naval configuration, called NFH or NATO Frigate Helicopter, while the other eight will be configured in what the Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command calls the TNFH.
To avoid the issue of fleets within fleets, the TNFHs will essentially be NFH aircraft with the various components allowing maritime operations but without the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW) equipment such as dipping sonar or surface search radar.
The government is still finalising the deal for the TNFHs, but this is likely to happen early next year.
The Netherlands MoD had been due to take delivery of the first NH90s in 2007 but issues meant that the first aircraft did not get delivered until late 2009. The delays have also meant that the retirement of the elderly Lynx has had to be postponed.
Nonetheless, commanders are pleased with the aircraft and the progress the type has made. A second aircraft was delivered in July and third is expected at the end of November.
'This aircraft is a huge improvement over the Lynx even in the current Meaningful Operational Configuration that the aircraft are being delivered in at the moment,' Janssen said.
'We have had one or two issues with spares - we had to wait several weeks for a component for our second aircraft, which could not fly. This was unacceptable and we are now seeing improvements in the supply chain,' he added.
Janssen pointed out that when the aircraft were first ordered, officers were expecting to be working with other nations such as Norway - which has also ordered the type - in working the aircraft up for operational service, but the country has now found itself as the only operator using the type.
'This has forced us to take the aircraft forward ourselves,' explained Janssen.
The Netherlands Defence Helicopter Force plans to use the aircraft for ASW, ASuW and SAR for use from the land-base at De Kooy and from the Royal Netherlands Navy's surface vessels.
By Tony Osborne, London _________________ R22 2.6 h/r wanting more, a hell of a lot more
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