The Joint Netherlands Training Detachment (JNTD) at Fort Hood has officially been established as the new RNLAF 302 Squadron by the Dutch minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert en the Dutch commander of the Air Forces lt-gen Sander Schnitger during a ceremony on 24 November 2014.
302 Squadron hosts a 5 week training course for air mobile units and helicopter crew. Moreover, it trains active Apache crew four weeks a year in operational environments and perform the initial mission kwalification of Apache student crews.
302 Squadron at Fort Hood has a permanent strength of 8 Apaches and 3 Chinooks to train the RNLAF aviators. Before its disbandment the old 302 squadron built a bit of reputation flying Alouette helicopters during military operations in Bosnia. It has already flown Apaches earlier, including the first operational deployment of the type in RNLAF service in Djibouti. 302 is part of the Defnce Helicopter Command of the Netherlands.
Source: the Netherlands MoD (Ministerie van Defensie)
Block II means better and faster processors inside the electronic mission system of the attack helicopter, as well as the digitalisation of older analogue systems such as the video recorder. The renewed chopper got an improved IFF, an electronic system to recognise friends from enemies (foes) on the battlefield, and have improved capability to cross data usage with other friendly units.
All 28 Apaches of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (RNLAF) will undergo the Block II update. The eight machines based at Fort Hood in Texas for training purposes will be modified by Boeing, the other 21 by the Logistics Centre at RNLAF air base Woensdrecht. The Dutch Ministry of Defence hopes that all Apaches have been upgraded by 2017. The Netherlands flies the Apache attack helicopter since 1997.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has been flying its final of six Boeing CH-47F Chinook medium-lift helicopters for a week now on Friday September 27, 2013.
Personnel of the Logistic Centre at Woensdrecht Airbase made the final modifications to the machine on September 20, 2013, before it flew to homebase Gilze Rijen in the south of the country. The modifications are made after lessons learned with the older CH-47D the Dutch have operated since 1991 when 7 Canadian CH-47C were modified to the D-standard. Most of the experience has been gained during real-war operations in Afghanistan over the last few years, where the RNLAF lost two CH-47s.
Among other things a special protective coating has been applied to the windows, a tailor-made plate has been added to protect the operation panel in the cargo area and several areas have been strengthened. The latter because groups of soldiers with heavy gear damaged the loading ramp while the chopper is used for normal operations.
The last CH-47F made its first European flight from the harbour of Antwerp in Belgium to Woensdrecht Airbase about a month ago, which resulted in an airborne time of only 7 minutes.
Compared to older models the CH-47F has a fully digitalised cockpit. An automatic flight system makes safer and more precise flights possible in difficult conditions, like in dusty or sandy areas. The F-version also has a Forward Looking Infrared for better overview of the terrain after dark. Furthermore the helicopters have 5 in stead of 3 fast-rope positions, better self protection systems and can accommodate heavier weapons.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force kicked of its joint army and air force air mobile training operations at Fort Hood (Texas) on August 15, 2013.
To illustrate the start seven RNLAF Boeing AH-64A Apache and three RNLAF Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters took off for a formation fly-by of the US Army base (download via official site defensie.nl). The Joint Netherlands Training Detachment (JNTD) at Fort Hood has a permanent strength of 8 Apaches and 3 Chinooks to train the RNLAF aviators. Fort Hood has a vast training area unequaled to any of the possibilities in the Netherlands, for almost everything from number of flying hours, flying during daytime or night and the availability of space. Having aircraft of one’s own makes the use of all training possibilities even better, writes the Dutch Ministry of Defence in a press release.
The JNTD gets maintenance support, so-called opposing forces to train against and life-fire shooting ranges. Training in America also means reducing the noise in the skies over the fairly crowded Netherlands.
The first week after the kick-off the JNTD will make several training sorties, followed by the first big Air Assault on Monday August 19th. ,,This is the most intensive and complex co-operation of air and ground forces”, writes a press spokesperson. ,,From the beginning till the end the action of the various units has to be fine-tuned. Because of the speed, the element of surprise and the low impact of the terrain on the operations an air assault offers forces to operate unpredictably. This has proven its value during Dutch operations in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan in the past.”
After the training the Apaches will be transferred to manufacturer Boeing for upgrading to the so-called Block 2 standard.