The Netherlands ordered 14 H225M Caracal helicopters from France

In June, the Netherlands announced that it had selected the H225M Caracal maneuvering helicopter from Airbus Helicopters, to replace the 12 AS532 Cougars in service with the Royal Netherlands Air Force for transport and combat search and rescue missions.

The aircraft, built in Marignane, was preferred to the UH-60M Black Hawk from the American company Sikorsky, following an advanced evaluation to best meet the expectations of Special Forces, and the wide variety of missions and environment in which they may be required to evolve.

Order for 14 H225M Caracals for Dutch special forces signed on October 1

According to the Dutch Ministry of Defense, numerous criteria were evaluated in terms of performance (speed, ceiling, load capacity, range of action), operational use (cabin size, reconfiguration capacity, refueling flight, etc.), versatility (use in different environments including naval) and even sustainable development (use of 30% biofuel).

H225M Caracal A400M In-flight refueling
The Caracal has an in-flight refueling capability, making it a device particularly suited to special forces missions.

In addition, Airbus Helicopters is committed to guaranteeing the availability of 9 of the 14 aircraft acquired for operational and training missions. This is a particularly delicate subject, on which the European aircraft manufacturer must now make significant efforts to compensate for the poor image left in this area by the NH90.

Anyway, the order for the 14 devices was signed on October 1, 2023, according to Airbus Helicopters, which is now awaiting payment of the 30% deposit to enter into force. Deliveries will take place in 2028, with the aircraft expected to reach Gilze-Rijen air base, to enter service in 2030.

This is the 12th customer of the H225M Caracal, the final evolution of the Super Puma, which entered service in 2005. The French armies use 17 examples also dedicated to special forces, including 7 for combat rescue missions within the squadron EH/67 Pyrénées of the Air and Space Force, and eight within the 4th Combat Helicopter Regiment of the Special Forces of the Army.

The performance of the Airbus Helicopters Caracal

Almost 20 meters long, the device has a 5-blade main rotor measuring 16,2 m in diameter. It has an empty mass of 5,3 tonnes, and can transport 5,6 tonnes of payload, in particular thanks to a large cabin that can accommodate up to 29 soldiers.

The H225M is also one of the rare helicopters to be qualified for in-flight refueling, initially from an H-130 Hercule, and more recently, with an A400M converted into a tanker version.

H225M Caracal French Special Forces
French special forces use 17 Caracal helicopters

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