Today our organization is undergoing a profound transformation and we are facing an extraordinary challenge in the field of human resources. In this context, it was decided to reduce the operations of the Troop Transport Helicopter (TTH) variant of the NH90, and to take the B-Hunter UAV capability out of service four months early.
The measures related to the TTH variant are a result of its limited operational output due to the lack of industrial support (which is likely to decline in the coming years) due to very costly but necessary upgrades and to personnel shortages.
Defense decided to focus on the NH90’s Nato Frigate Helicopter (NFH) version), 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.
A second measure is to retire the B-Hunter UAV out of circulation. The current B-Hunter has a low availability and no longer meets the standards and requirements of today's theater of operations. Early retirement will allow released personnel to optimally prepare for the 2023 planned deployment of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian and to reinforce other weapon systems. For the initial technical support of the MQ-9B, maximum use will be made of industry.
A period of reconditioning therefore imposes itself against this profound transformation and extraordinary challenge. This should allow to stabilize personnel, to train new staff, to integrate new capabilities and to invest in new infrastructure while the current one is being renovated, and to meet future challenges with the necessary energy.
In September 2017, Belgium deployed two TTH variants of the NH90 to Gabon, where they took part in Exercise Tropical Storm.
This has consequences for the operational output, whereby care must be taken to maintain a coherent operational commitment within the possibilities and taking into account the restrictions imposed.
It is in this very specific context that these proposals were submitted to the Chief of Defense and his Minister for a decision.
The decisions taken will affect each component individually, in some cases all together, and in still others only part.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: By its wording in the original French text, the above statement clearly implies that Belgium will soon retire its four TTH helicopters, and that more affordable helicopters of similar capacity will be procured.)