Royal Netherlands Airforce’s Newest Helicopter Makes Debut in Somalia
The Royal Netherlands Airforce’s newest helicopter, the NH-90, is on its way to Somalia on board HNLMS De Ruyter. It is the first overseas mission in which the maritime on-board helicopter will take part. Although in its current configuration it will not be able to carry out all mission tasks, the NH-90 will make an important contribution to Operation Atalanta, the EU counterpiracy mission.
The on-board helicopter will mainly be used for intelligence, reconnaissance and patrol flights, acting as the eyes and ears of the frigate. With its advanced detection equipment such as the infra-red thermal imaging camera, radar and tracking equipment, freshly gathered intelligence can be passed on rapidly and automatically via a datalink.
The helicopter crew comprises a pilot, a tactical coordinator and an operator who operates the sensors, analyses observations and, if and when necessary, mans the on-board weaponry. There are 13 military personnel on board HNLMS De Ruyter specifically for helicopter operations.
Owing to the fact that, in an international sense, the Dutch deployment of the maritime helicopter is something quite special, partner nations will be kept informed about the experiences gained and the end result of working with the helicopter. The NH-90 (NATO Helicopter 90) is the result of years of cooperation between the armed forces of 4 NATO members, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands, and their respective national aircraft manufacturers.
Naval Today Staff, January 30, 2013; Image: Defensie