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Naval Air Arm / Naval Air Service
Marine-Luchtvaartdienst (MLD)

The navy's 21 helicopters are able to operate from both shore and ship. The Dutch Navy operated the Westland Lynx helicopter from frigates for ASW (SH-14) and Rescue and other tasks (UH-14). The shipborne helicopters are equipped for such tasks as antisubmarine operations and surveillance and therefore form an integral part of the onboard weapon system. The land-based helicopters carry out transport, policing and search-and-rescue operations. Because the harbor of Den Helder is the main base for Dutch navy ships, the Westland Lynx helicopters are based there.

In 1974 the Dutch Minister of Defense planned the procurement of 36 'standard' helicopters for the Royal Dutch Navy. In the same year the Westland WG-13 (Lynx) was chosen. Between 1975 and 1983 24 Lynx helicopters were actually bought, in three versions (A, B and C). The last 12 were postponed and later canceled because a new project to replace the Lynx by a new helicopter (NH-90) was already underway.

On March 10, 1987, the Court of Audit (CoA) published its report on procurement andavailability of the Lynx. The findings of the CoA can be summarized as follows. There was no clear set of criteria and no clear plan in the procurement process. There was no real (price) competition between producers, because of too quick a choice for the Westland Lynx. Standardization was a failure, because three different versions were procured and nointernational coordination of procurement took place. Information to Parliament was fragmentary and incomplete. Initially NGL 192 million was budgeted for 24 helicopters, while eventually NGL 361 million was paid. There was an alarming lack of readiness of the helicopters (less than 40%) and low availability of spare parts.

At the time there was, according to the Navy (and the then Minister), simply no alternative to the Lynx development trajectory. To the Navy, a relatively open goal formulation at the outset is an asset, because it allows for flexible adaptation to new developments and circumstances. This was in conformity with the drive to procure the most advanced systems.

A number of measures were taken. The first one was primarily presentation: the definition of readiness was changed, which lead to somewhat higher percentages. But more fundamental was a large-scale reorgani-zation of the maintenance activities in order to perform faster, well structured and missionoriented maintenance. Finally cooperation was sought with a number of other Europeancountries to create a joint pool of spare parts.

The NH90 (NATO Helicopter) is the result of a multi-national project whose production is being directed by the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA). NHIndustries is the prime contractor for the design & development of the NH90. The following companies currently share NHIndustries: Eurocopter (France/Germany), AgustaWestland (Italy), and Stork Fokker Aerospace (The Netherlands). The NH90 is a medium-weight military helicopter that has been developed in two mission variants: the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH).

In the Netherlands the NH90 will replace the Lynx helicopters of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The Royal Netherlands Navy has ordered a total of 20 NATO Helicopters; i.e. 12 NFH variants and 8 Marinised TTH variants. The Agusta assembly line is in charge of the Dutch NH90 production. Under the 2005 Budget, the navy's 22 Lynx helicopters would be replaced by 12 helicopters of the NH-90 type. The Lynx helicopter was due to be phased out from 2007, to be replaced by the NH-90 NATO Frigate Helicopter, a maritime combat helicopter for surface warfare and anti-submarine operations, both on the high sea and in coastal areas.

The first Dutch NH90 Helicopter, the NNLN001, has been presented during Heldair Airshow, a joint event of Den Helder Airport and "Marine Vliegkamp de Kooij", the navy base in den Helder. It is the first time that the Dutch NH90 Helicopter in NFH (Nato Frigate Helicopter) version has set foot in the Netherlands. The NNLN001 performed its maiden flight on the 10th august 2007 in Italy. 20 NH90's have been ordered by the Dutch navy to replace the actual fleet of Lynx helicopters. The first was expected to enter service in 2009.

The delayed introduction of the NH-90 helicopter means that Lynx helicopters will have to continue to operate. To avoid an operational gap between phasing out the current Lynx helicopter and service entry of the NH90, it was important to closely consider the options for Lynx service extension. Instrumental for this effort is AIDA (Aircraft Integrated Data Acquisition system), an RNLN Lynx fleetwide installation of a multi-channel structural data recorder that monitors the lifting frame, main rotor, engines and sponsons. More than 30,000 RNLN Lynx flight hours were gathered with AIDA. Information from the AIDA database is used for fleet planning and maintenance optimization tasks. Over 2 years, the NLR engaged in activities to support validation and certification efforts, in a dialogue with the various OEMs.

Maritime patrol aircraft conduct reconnaissance flights over long distances. This takes place over land as well as over sea. Two patrol aircraft are active in the Caribbean in coastguard tasks such as counter-drug and search-and-rescue operations. These aircraft are also deployed for reconnaissance tasks in peace operations. The ten Orion maritime patrol aircraft are to be decommissioned as of 1 January 2005. Their tasks will be taken over by the Fokker 60 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

After the sale of the P-3C's to the German Navy, the Royal Netherlands Navy had only the Lynx helicopter in this fleet. In the near future, the Navy helicopters were to be integrated in the Royal Netherlands Air Force.





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