The Netherlands Ministry of Defence announced, 4 January, its intentions to perform a Mid-Life Update of its entire fleet of 19 NH90 maritime combat helicopters to maintain the weapon systems’ operational capabilities and equip the airframes with the new Link-22 data link system that is the new standard for Nato interoperability. 

The NH90 programme is managed by NH Industries industrial consortium involving AgustaWestland (32%), Eurocopter (62.5%) and Fokker Aerostructures (5.5%), as well as NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) representing France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal.

In June 2000, Netherlands and a group of other participating countries signed a contract for the production of 243 NH90s, with a total of 20 NH90 units ordered for the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN), and the RNLN received its first NH90 helicopter in April 2010.

Delivery of the NH90 was suspended in June 2014 after the excessive corrosion issues were found to be affecting the fleet, with delivery of the remaining 7 helicopters delayed until an agreement was reached with NH Industries in December of the same year. 

A Netherlands NH90 was lost in an accident in the Caribbean Sea in July 2020. While the helicopter was recovered after sinking, the fleet is still reduced in size to 19 helicopters. 

 Primarily designed for autonomous anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) missions, the helicopter can also conduct missions including search and rescue, troop transport, medical evacuation, and amphibious support. The NH90 is judged as one of the world’s best anti-submarine helicopters, reflecting the helicopter’s high endurance and capability to be deployed to counter submarines at long ranges.

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By GlobalData

The Link 22 system to be installed in the RNLN NH90 is a tactical datalink designed to provide armed forces with the ability to share huge amounts of tactical information during joint and allied operations. The datalink operates in the HF and UHF frequency bands and is expected to replace Link 11 by 2025. Link 11 is the digital radio link standard currently used by Nato and its allies for maritime tactical data exchange.