Royal Netherlands Air force: operating with the AS532 U2 Cougar

RNLAF helicopter squadrons have been flying the AS532 U2 Cougar from 1996 onward. Their missions take them all over the world, operating at a maximum altitude of 10,000 ft and very high temperatures. Their out-of-area operations have increased in length, follow-up and high threat spectrum.


 RNLAF
Cliquer pour agrandir

After leaving Bosnia in 2003, the RNLAF’s next missions took the helicopters to Iraq (2004-2005) and Afghanistan (2006-2007). During this period, they also carried out fire-fighting operations in Greece, Portugal and Holland as well as shipboard operations. Many challenges were encountered during these missions, including weather conditions and geographical situation, communication, RNLAF safety requirements and defence procurement. Five Cougars were deployed in Iraq for transport and medical evacuation missions. They had to face high temperatures, brown-out conditions day and night and poor communication. The latter aspect was a major challenge. The Crypto(1) requirement addresses this issue since this system is required to ensure interoperability with other forces. Eurocopter is currently working on its installation on board Cougars. The Cougar’s capabilities were put through an entirely different set of tests during the shipboard operations that consisted in taking off and landing from/on the landing platform dock (LPD) of the Hr.Ms. Rotterdam. The most challenging part of these exercises related to the use of night-vision goggles (NVG), which do not form part of the standard equipment for the Netherland Navy. 572 landings were executed by crews of RNLAF with two AS532 U2s to obtain the certification for this ship. The Cougar currently possesses the highest ship/helicopter operating limits (SHOL) for transporting freight and passengers to and from the Hr.Ms. Rotterdam LPD. Nevertheless, the most rewarding missions for the RNLAF crews were those of fire-fighting. The main difficulties encountered mainly concerned the smoke and heat encountered when performing the water drops, which had to be done upwind. But once again the Cougar proved to be a highly valuable asset to the firefighting forces. RNLAF’s most recent mission was in Afghanistan, where operating conditions were similar to those in Iraq, plus the aggravating circumstances of altitude and the major issue of communications. The five Cougars deployed in Afghanistan accomplished their mission satisfactorily, with a performance superior to expectations and proving their capability to operate up to the highest operating limits.

(1) Technical adjustment in addition to the radio’s to ensure comsec and transec communication.


_AUTHOR: ELIANA GUELFI



 RNLAF
Cliquer pour agrandir