Belgian Air Force reduces NH-90 TTH use and retires B-Hunter UAV

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Belgian Air Force NH-90 Cayman

Belgian Defence is undergoing profound changes and is facing an extraordinary challenge in the field of human resources. In this context, it was decided to reduce the flight plan for the NH-90 TTH (Troop Transport Helicopter) version and to withdraw the B-Hunter UAV from use four months earlier than planned.

The measures related to the TTH version of the NH-90 are due to its limited operational capability due to imperfect industrial support (which is likely to decrease in the coming years) due to very expensive but necessary upgrades and shortages in staff. Belgian Defence has chosen to focus primarily on the NFH version (Nato Frigate Helicopter), which, in its maritime role, must increase the efficiency of the frigates and at the same time ensure the SAR (Search and Rescue) mission. To provide support for the Army and the Medical Component in the future, several proposals are currently being studied.

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B-Hunter drone of the Belgian Army © mil.be

A second measure is to accelerate the retirement of the B-Hunter UAV. The current B-Hunter has low availability and no longer meets the standards and requirements of current operational theatres. Early decommissioning will allow personnel to optimally prepare for the planned deployment in 2023 of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian and to strengthen other weapon systems. For the initial technical support of the MQ-9B, maximum use will be made of industry.

Faced with this profound transformation and this extraordinary challenge in the area of ​​human resources, a transition period is required. It should make it possible to stabilise, recruit new employees, integrate new capacities, invest in new infrastructure under renovation and meet future challenges with the necessary energy. This has operational consequences where care must be taken to maintain a coherent operational commitment within the limits of the possibilities taking into account the restrictions imposed.

It is in this very specific context that these proposals were submitted to the Chief of Defence and to the Minister for decision.

The decisions made will affect each component individually, in some cases all together, in others only a part of them.

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