AS532 Cougar helicopters will temporarily provide SAR cover. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Rehabilitation for Dutch Cougar helos

The seventeen Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Cougar transport helicopters were earmarked for retirement as early as 2011 once, but Dutch Defense minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on Wednesday 14 October reported to parliament that they will now remain into service until 2023. It’s rehabilitation for the helicopters, that never saw much love in the Netherlands.

With a least four more years until the first of 14 new Boeing CH-47F Chinooks are delivered, the RNLAF is desperately looking to  keep its helicopter transport capability on par. Recent troubles with newly delivered NH90 helicopters also didn’t help.

The Cougar suddenly seemed on its way out in 2011 already because of budget cause. A lacking search and rescue capability forced the RNLAF to keep a number in service, however. Before today, 2020 was mentioned as the final year for the Dutch Cougars, the first of which was delivered in 1996.

Keeping them flying until 2023 will cost Dutch taxpayers 130 million EUR. The choppers are based at Gilze Rijen airbase.

© 2015 editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image:  A Dutch AS532 Cougar transport helicopter. (Image © Elmer van Hest)