Belgium to scale back NH90 TTH operations

Belgium’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced plans to reduce the operations of its NHIndustries NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) fleet.

The Belgian MoD revealed the plans on June 24, citing declining industrial support, personnel shortages and rising costs as reasons for the scaling back of operations. The move affects the Belgian Air Component’s (BAC’s) fleet of four NH90 TTH helicopters, which entered service in October 2013.

Belgian NH90 TTH [Airbus/Anthony Pecchi] #1
A Belgian NH90 TTH - serial RN-07 (c/n 1297) - in flight. Airbus/Anthony Pecchi

In a press release, the Belgian MoD said that it will focus more on its NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) fleet, which are operated in a maritime role by the BAC.

“[The Belgian MoD] decided to focus on the NH90 [NFH], which, in its naval role, extends the effectiveness of the frigates and at the same time ensures the search and rescue mission. To ensure support for the land component and the medical component in the future, a number of avenues are currently being studied,” the press release said.

Belgian NH90 TTH [Airbus/Anthony Pecchi] #2
Troops board a BAC-operated NH90 TTH. Airbus/Anthony Pecchi

Belgium’s NH90 TTH fleet – serials RN-05 (c/n 1257), RN-06 (c/n 1296), RN-07 (c/n 1297) and RN-08 (c/n 1305) – are operated by 18 Squadron (MRH) ‘Arès-Leonidas’ from Beauvechain Air Base in Wollonia.

Although the Belgian MoD has stated that it will reduce the operational flight hours of the BAC’s NH90 TTH fleet, it has not provided any specific detail as how this will affect operations. The platform could be retired altogether in favour of the procurement of a more affordable type.