On 14 September, Dutch and US officials signed a contract to modernise the Royal Netherlands Air Force's (RNLAF) fleet of 28 AH-64D APACHE helicopters. To date, the Dutch fleet has been used almost continuously in major operations of the Dutch Armed Forces, such as protecting ground troops, escorting convoys and carrying out reconnaissance missions. The attack helicopters are assigned to the Defense Helicopter Command of the RNLAF.
US Ambassador to the Netherlands, Cornelis Pieter "Pete" Hoekstra, joined Principal Director of Security Assistance at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Michèle Hizon, and Dutch State Secretary for Defense, Barbara Visser, at Gilze-Rijen Air Base for a signing ceremony.
Secretary Visser said: “Reinforcing the armed forces is in full swing. This contract signing is a good example of this. Our operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Mali have demonstrated the importance of APACHEs. With this modernization our Apaches remain the versatile combat helicopters that our armed forces need.”
The current APACHEs have become technically and operationally out of date after 20 years of service. During the overhaul, the fleet will receive new hulls, transmissions and rotor blades. In addition, the power of the engines will be increased and they will be better able to fly in bad weather conditions. Other countries that use the APACHE are also carrying out this modernization, which makes international cooperation easier.
The first aircraft will be modernised beginning in 2021. By mid-2022, the first modernised APACHEs will be reintroduced to the fleet. The sale represents an estimated total value of U$1.19 billion .
On 14 July, Boeing and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) signed a Combined Helicopter Support services agreement at the Royal International Air Tattoo that will provide maintenance, services and spare parts to the RNLAF’s fleet of AH-64 APACHE and CH-47 CHINOOK helicopters. The performance based logistics contract, called COHESU, is designed to drive flexibility, affordability and availability to the RNLAF of its fleet of Chinooks and Apaches, and to develop innovative solutions and enhance Dutch industry.
In February, it was reported that the $1.19 billion package will see upgrades to the helicopters’ General Electric T700 engines, fire control and targeting systems, and other equipment. The deal will also include training for Dutch personnel, which will be undertaken at Fort Hood, Texas. Key contractors for the work are Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The aircraft have seen extensive use, including missions in Afghanistan and Mali. The RNLAF currently has 28 AH-64Ds, 11 CH-47Ds and 6 CH-47Fs in their fleet.