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Netherlands buys H225M Caracal heli as Cougar replacement

Photo: Airbus

The Netherlands has chosen the Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal in a move to upgrade its aging fleet of AS532 Cougars.

Dutch Defense Secretary Christophe van der Maat announced the acquisition of 14 new H225M Caracal rotorcraft on June 5.

The decision was made as part of the transformation of a squadron within the Defense Helicopter Command into a Special Operations Force (SOF) unit, aligning with a key objective outlined in last year’s Defense Memorandum.

Similar to the Cougars, the new aircraft will be stationed at Gilze-Rijen Air Base, with the purchase also encompassing new mission equipment and temporary simulation capacity for education and training purposes.

Having served the Ministry of Defense for 27 years, Cougar helicopters have been used in troop and equipment transport, as well as serving as on-board helicopters on naval vessels and firefighting aircraft.

However, the weapon system has not undergone a significant interim overhaul, partly due to evolving perspectives on maintaining its operational status.

Presently, an improvement project is underway to extend the operational life of the existing 12 Cougars until 2030.

The H225M Caracal is an 11-ton helicopter with in-flight refueling capacity, which has already been tested by several air forces, including France, Brazil, Thailand, Ukraine, UAE, Singapore and others.

The Caracal is a versatile military helicopter with all-weather capabilities and night vision goggle compatibility. It can operate from land and ships, including icy conditions.

With a range of 700 NM, it supports air-to-air and hover in-flight refueling. Powered by two Makila 2A1 engines, it has a low vibration level and a modular Spheriflex design for easier maintenance.

The delivery of the Caracal helicopters will take place from the beginning of 2028, according to the Dutch defense ministry.