Holland is preparing to receive its first NH Industries NH90 maritime helicopter configured to the full operational capability standard.
Destined for the Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command, part of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), one NH90 will be handed over each quarter from autumn 2012 until 2015 as part of a total order for 20 of the type. First deployment on a naval vessel is scheduled for 2013.
Deliveries were due to commence in 2007, but programme delays meant the first aircraft, in the meaningful operational capability (MOC) configuration, was only received in 2010. Since then the Netherlands has received a further six of the type, all configured to the MOC standard.
According to Commander Jan-Willem Boone, commanding officer of the RNLAF's 860 Sqn, the majority of changes between the two configurations are software related. However, there are some 300 components that need to be updated, he says. The performance of the radar at short range is also lacking, he adds.
Its electronic warfare system, including countermeasures, will be operational on the full operational capability (FOC) version.
Once deliveries of the FOC-configured aircraft are completed, the seven initial NH90s will be upgraded to the higher standard.
Training in preparation for the arrival of the new aircraft continues and the service aims to have a total of five crews fully trained by the end of the year. However, Cdr Boone describes this goal as challenging and feels it is unlikely to meet its flight hour target this year. To be based at Naval Air Station De Kooy in Den Helder, the NH90s will replace the country's fleet of Westland Lynx SH-14Ds.