PICTURE: Belgium accepts first NH90 transport helicopter

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Belgium has accepted its first of eight NH90 helicopters from NH Industries (NHI) partner company Eurocopter.

One of four aircraft to be produced for the Belgian Air Component in the tactical transport helicopter configuration, and first flown on 18 September, the rotorcraft was delivered at Eurocopter's Marignane site near Marseille on 21 December. Manufactured in the NH90's final operational configuration standard (below), the asset will enter use soon, with the first Belgian pilots and technicians having begun training on the type in July 2012.

 

Anthony Pecci/Eurocopter

Belgium's other four NH90s will be produced in the NATO frigate helicopter (NFH) variant. Two will be embarked aboard naval vessels, while the remainder will replace Westland Sea Kings in providing search and rescue services.

Meanwhile, Eurocopter has also handed over the French navy's first NFH-variant NH90 to have completed in a "Step B" version. An enhancement over the seven examples already operated by the service, the model features improved capability in performing anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare tasks.

NHI says it has so far delivered 133 NH90s to operators in 14 countries.