The Belgium Navy has received the first NH90 Nato frigate helicopter (NFH) from Eurocopter's Donauwörth industrial site in Germany, to boost its maritime capability.
Rated at full operational capability (FOC), the NH90 will meet Belgium's multi-role mission requirements while replacing the Belgium Navy's Sea King helicopters.
Eurocopter NH90 programme director Michel Polychroniadis said Belgium will benefit from the operationally proven NH90 NFH and its already validated performance, reliability and versatility.
"The Belgium acceptance teams and flight crews have been impressed by the NH90 NFH's flight stability and its capabilities, providing a preview of the operational enhancements that will be provided for the country's army," Polychroniadis said.
A total of eight NH90 helicopters will be delivered to Belgium, with four tactical transport helicopter variants being used for tactical transport operations and the remaining four NFH versions are set to support naval missions.
Specifically designed to conduct autonomous, as well as anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare missions, the NH90 NFH variant can also be used to perform search-and-rescue, maritime patrol, vertical replenishment, troop transport, medical evacuation and amphibious support.
The Belgian aircraft is similar to the Dutch NH90 NFH step B version, which is currently operational with the Royal Netherlands Navy.
The twin-engine, medium-sized NH90 helicopter has also been selected by France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Oman, Australia, New-Zealand and Spain.
Managed by the consortium NHIndustries, owned by AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and Stork Fokker, the NH90 helicopter programme has received firm orders for 529 units from 19 armed forces in 14 nations to date.
The Belgium Navy NH90 NFH flight and maintenance crews' training is scheduled to commence next month followed by operations of the first two helicopters in 2014.
Image: a Belgium Navy's NH90 naval helicopter landing at a base. Photo: copyright of Eurocopter.