All 19 NH90 maritime attack helicopters are undergoing a major overhaul. This so-called midlife update is necessary to keep the aircraft operationally relevant. State Secretary Christoph van der Maat told the House.

The NH90 is deployed for maritime combat tasks on board ships, such as reconnaissance. The helicopter also plays an important role in counter-narcotics operations, anti-piracy missions and emergency assistance. The helicopter can also be used for transport tasks from larger ships. The NH90 can also collect data (even under water), receive and share it. This makes the helicopter suitable for information-driven operations.

Outdated equipment
The armed forces have been using the NH90 since 2010, but its design dates back to the 1990s. The equipment is now obsolete. After the midlife update, the aircraft are modernised and future-proof. This is no luxury considering the international security situation in which threats are not only increasing in number, but also in type and complexity. It is important that the maritime attack helicopters are operationally equipped to deal with them.

Several countries have the NH90. Together, they drew up the requirements for the midlife update. In this way, the industry will receive orders more efficiently. The aim is for all helicopters to be configured as uniformly as possible. It also facilitates international cooperation in the field of maintenance and training.

What does the update involve?
The devices receive a complete software upgrade. Obsolete systems are replaced or updated to the latest standard. The midlife update also provides for the modernisation of the sensors and navigation and communication equipment. The logistical systems and training equipment, such as the flight simulator, will also be updated.

Countries can contract separately for additional requirements. The Ministry of Defence is looking into the possibilities, but at the moment there is not enough money available, Van der Maat writes.

The first NH90s are expected to be modernised in 2027. After that, the aircraft will probably last another 15 years or so.


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