Netherlands to replace Cougar with Caracal helicopters for special operations

Dutch Ministry of Defense

The Dutch Ministry of Defense opted to replace its aging fleet of 12 Cougar helicopters with 14 new Airbus H225M Caracal helicopters.

The first delivery is expected for the beginning of 2028, according to the Ministry. The value of the contract, which includes mission equipment and training, was not specified by the Ministry.

The acquisition will accompany the conversion of a squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Defense Helicopter Command into a Special Operations Force (SOF). Like their predecessors, the Caracals will be based at the Gilze-Rijen Air Base, in the south of Netherlands.

The Cougar helicopters, which have been in service with the Netherlands for 27 years, are undergoing a modernization campaign to extend their operational life to 2030.

The last of the Super Puma helicopters 

The H225M Caracal is the ultimate iteration of the Super Puma family. It is powered by 2 Turbomeca Makila 2A1 turbines of 2,380 horsepower each, produced by Safran.

The Caracal can carry up to 5.2 tons of cargo and accommodate up to 28 fully equipped soldiers. It boasts a top speed of 324 kilometers per hour and an operating range of 1,253 kilometers (677 nautical miles) with additional fuel tanks. It can be refueled mid-flight by the A400M Atlas transport aircraft.

The announcement likely comes as a breath of fresh air for Airbus Helicopters. In May 2023, the United Arab Emirates said it canceled a deal with Airbus to procure 12 units of H225M Caracal multirole helicopters, a contract valued at around €800 million ($880.6 million).

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