Safran to support Dutch Cougar engines

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has signed a multi-year contract with Safran Helicopter Engines to provide engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for its AS532U2 Cougar utility helicopter fleet.

The deal will see Safran Helicopter Engines provide MRO support on more than 40 Turbomeca Makila 1A2 turboshaft engines. The company announced the deal on June 29, adding that it will provide MRO services on the powerplant until the end of their viable operational lives.

Air Cdre A R Laurijssen, commander of the RNLAF Logistics Centre at Woensdrecht air base, said: “The good working relationship with Safran goes back many years. With this contract, we will even be better able to support our Cougar fleet in their missions all around the world. We are confident that our common goal to join the best is well served now.”

Dutch Cougar [NATO/WO Fran C Valverde] #1
A Dutch Cougar lands on the HNLMS Johan de Witt (L801) during Exercise Trident Juncture in October 2018. NATO/WO Fran C Valverde

According to Safran, under the contract the RNLAF “can [optimise] its engine maintenance budget and benefit from guaranteed MRO turnaround times. It also secures access to a pool of replacement enquiries.” The company will provide ground-service equipment, spare parts and engineering support services.

Airbus Helicopters' AS532U2 Cougar II entered Dutch service in May 1996, with a total of 17 delivered. AirForces Intelligence data states that, as of July 2020, 12 of the 17 aircraft handed over remain operational, four have been placed in storage and a single example has been withdrawn from service. The RNLAF’s Cougar force is operated by 300 Squadron at Gilze-Rijen air base in the south of the country.

The type will be withdrawn and replaced by the NHIndustries NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) but due to delays in the delivery of its successor, the service life of the Cougar has been extended.