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Royal Netherlands Air Force Net availability transport helicopters 2016 - 2021
Latest update: August 2017
Royal Netherlands Air Force helicopter fleet 2016 – 2021

In previous years the Netherlands parliament was informed about the NH90 program status by an annual letter by the minister of defense Mrs. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. As the Dutch permanent committee requested a comprehensive report on the helicopter (both transport and combat) fleet on October 16, 2015 the first report was submitted on October 28, 2016 containing three elements:

- Information about the deployment of Airbus helicopters AS532 Cougar, NHIndustries NH90-NFH and Boeing defense CH-47D/F Chinook.
- Information of the progress of the European cooperation project for the development and production of the NH-90 helicopter.
Information about the replacement and modernization program of the CH-47 Chinook.

The reported period covered the period July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 but also contained information about the net availability of the RNLAF helicopter fleet in the timeframe 2016 – 2021.

AS532U2 "Cougar" CH-47D "Chinook" NH90-NFH

Defense Helicopter Command (DHC - Defensie Helikopter Commando)

All RNLAF helicopters are operated under command of the Defense Helicopter Command (DHC) headquartered at Gilze-Rijen Air Base. Except the above mentioned transport helicopters the DHC is also responsible for the Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopter fleet. With the ending of the DHC participation in the United Nations MINUSMA mission in Mali on December 31, 2016 all of the deployed helicopters (three CH-47D, four AH-64D) returned to the Netherlands with the last Chinook arriving back at Gilze-Rijen on March 23, 2017. Current status of the DHC helicopter fleet

Squadron: Helicopter: Number: Air Base:
298 Squadron CH-47D “Chinook” 11 Gilze-Rijen
298 Squadron CH-47F “Chinook” 2 Gilze-Rijen
300 Squadron AS532U2 “Cougar” 12 Gilze-Rijen
301 Squadron AH-64D “Apache” 20 Gilze-Rijen
302 Squadron CH-47F 4 Ft. Hood, Texas USA
302 Squadron AH-64D “Apache” 8 Ft. Hood, Texas USA
7 Squadron NH90-NFH   De Kooy
860 Squadron  NH90-NFH 20 De Kooy


302 Squadron is responsible for the training of aircrews and the joint Air Assault training with the Army 11th Air Maneuver Brigade and conducts its mission from US Army base Fort Hood, Texas.

7 and 860 Squadrons were part of the Marine Luchtvaart Dienst (MLD - Naval Aviation Service) prior to the integration into the DHC. At De Kooy 7 Squadron is responsible for all training on the NH90 as well as being the test and evaluation unit for the type. 860 Squadron conducts all maritime missions.

RNLAF Net availability helicopters 2016 - 2021

44 helicopters (Cougar, Chinook, NH90) were available to the DHC in 2016. The same number should be available in 2017. From 2018 these numbers will rise to reach its peak in 2020 of 53 aircraft with more NH90s becoming available after their retrofit  and the arrival of the new ordered CH-47Fs. From 2021 the numbers will decrease as the CH-47D Chinook will be withdrawn from service.  The net availability of the helicopter fleet is foreseen as

AS532U2 "Cougar"

Originally all 17 Cougar helicopters were scheduled to be decommissioned but due to the problems of the NH90 preventing them to
service and the lack of overall transport capacity eight were returned to service. As an additional measure to strengthen the transport capacity another four Cougars were returned to operational service. The remaining five AS532s are stored at Gilze-Rijen.
One of these is reported as withdrawn from use after returning from a deployment to the Dutch Antilles. The other four are kept as logistical reserve and these can be returned to service should this need arise. Starting in 2021 the Cougars will again be withdrawn from service with the last one to be decommissioned by December 31, 2022.

Cougar 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Delivered 17 17 17 17 17 17 17
WFU 5 5 5 5 5 9 13
Net availability 12 12 12 12 12 8 4


WFU: Withdrawn From Use.
One helicopter is planned to be preserved and placed as a monument in a park next to the provincial road N237 in the town of Soesterberg.

CH-47D/F "Chinook"

13 Delta models were bought comprised of seven former Royal Canadian Air Force CH-47C models which were converted by Boeing to the Delta standard and sixnew build Chinooks of which two were lost in accidents when serving in Afghanistan. In 2007 a contract was signed to deliver six new CH-47Fs of which two were to replace the lost CH-47Ds and four to expand the scarce transport capacity
To replace its fleet of 11 aging CH-47D Chinook and provide for another expansion of the Chinook fleet the Dutch MoD ordered 14 new CH-47Fs together with the US Army. The US DoD ordered the first of 12 helicopters on April 14, 2016 with an estimated delivery date in 2020. A second order covering the remaining two aircraft was announced on April 28, 2017. Both Chinooks are part of Lot 15 including renew and new CH-47Fs for the US Army to be delivered by December 31, 2020.

New build CH-47Fs will be delivered to the standard US Army MYII CAAS specification with limited adjustments related to Dutch operational requirements, laws and regulations. Delivery of these Chinooks is expected to take place in 2020 with ten helicopters assigned to 298 Squadron at Gilze-Rijen and the other four being assigned to 302 Squadron at Ft. Hood, Texas USA
With an aim to reduce the operational cost of the entire Chinook fleet the Dutch MoD conducted a business case survey of three scenario’s regarding the future of the six CH-47Fs already in service. The three scenario’s being operating a mixed fleet, rebuilding the fleet to the new  MYII CAAS standard or ordering six additional new build helicopters. The survey concluded  that the rebuild program  is the most favorable option. In the second half of 2017 the MoD expects to can make its final decision regarding the standardization of the Chinook fleet.

Chinook 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
CH-47D (delivered) 13 13 13 13 13 13 13
CH-47D (W/O) 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
CH-47F (delivered) 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
CH-47D WFU / CH-47F (MYII CAAS) 0 0 0 0 5 5 0
CH-47D (WFU) 0 0 0 0 0 0 11
CH-47F (MYII CAAS) 0 0 0 0 0 0 14
Net availability 17 17 17 17 22 22 20


Until 2020 the RNLAF service has fielded  11 CH-47D and six CH-47F Chinooks. From 2020 the first new CH-47Fs should be delivered resulting in the raise of net availability in 2020. The five additional helicopters listed represent the balance of CH-47D withdrawn from use (WFU) and CH-47F inducted into service. From 2022 the D-models will have been withdrawn from use.


Of the 20 ordered NH-90NFH seven were delivered in the Meaningful Operational Capable (MOC) configuration allowing for training and coast guard duties to be fulfilled. All of these have been returned to NHIndustries to upgrade them to Full Operational Capability (FOC) including Final Radar Capability (FRC). The first retrofitted NH90 was redelivered in March 2016 with the other six in several stages of the program. Mid 2017 the last helicopter will enter the retrofit. The retrofit program is expected to be completed mid 2018. 13 NH90s were delivered in FOC configuration however the first six of these will have to be upgraded to FRC which will take approximately 12 months per helicopter. The upgrade is scheduled in the 2017 – 2020 timeframe. Simultaneously these helicopters will receive measures to make them more corrosion resistant.

From 2021 all 20 NH90s will be available to the squadrons. At the moment it is foreseen that as from 2021 the Cougars (see above) will be withdrawn from service.

NH90 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Delivered 20 20 20 20 20 20 20
Retrofit / upgrade 5 5 4 3 1 0 0
Net availability 15 15 16 17 19 20 20


From 2021 its expected that one NH90 will be withdrawn from active service to be inducted into ongoing lifetime update programs.
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