The purchase is one of the measures taken by the Dutch Ministry of Defence to transform a squadron of the Defence Helicopter Command into a Special Operations Force (SOF). Enhancing SOF capabilities for both land and maritime operations is a key objective outlined in last year’s Defence White Paper.
The H225M Caracal helicopters have met the specified requirements, leading to the decision to procure them from the European manufacturer Airbus Helicopters. Similar to the Cougars, the new helicopters will be based at Gilze-Rijen Air Base.
Included in the acquisition is a new mission equipment package for the helicopters, along with temporary simulation capacity for training and education, as part of the project.
The Cougar helicopters have served the Dutch Defence for 27 years, fulfilling various roles such as troop transport, equipment transport, and medical evacuation. Some of the helicopters have also been deployed as shipborne aircraft for the Dutch Navy. Additionally, the military organization has utilized these helicopters for firefighting purposes, equipped with a flexible water bucket (bambi-bucket) suspended beneath the aircraft.
Despite ongoing efforts to improve the Cougar helicopters, including a project to extend their operational lifespan until 2030, it has been decided that the acquisition of new helicopters is necessary to meet the evolving operational requirements of the Dutch Special Operations Forces.
The procurement of these new helicopters represents a significant investment by the Dutch Ministry of Defence to enhance the capabilities and effectiveness of their special operations, ensuring the country’s readiness for future challenges.