Based on a recent tweet by a Belgian Navy officer, a meeting has already taken place at French Navy’s naval air station Hyeres in Southern France to discuss how such a collaboration could take place:
“The Belgian Navy continues its efforts to develop its NFH / ASW capability aboard its frigates. In this context, the Belgian Navy makes reconnaissance visits to its allies to see what synergies would be possible in the near to medium term future, as part of the pilots and tactical air controllers’ training. The French Navy has taken note of our questions and will study them in detail.”Belgian Navy public affairs officer contacted by Naval News
Contacted by Naval News, a French Navy PAO said: “The French Navy naturally maintains a partnership with the Belgian Navy and meetings are regularly organized between our two navies to discuss different topics including NH90 helicopters.”
The French Navy has 27 NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) on order from NH Industries, of which 22 units were already delivered in December 2018.
Belgium has a total of 4 NH90 NFH (all of them already fielded) which are typically deployed from the two M-Frigates of the Navy or used for Search and Rescue tasks along the Belgian coast. They are crewed by Belgian Air Force personnel. Sensor operators (SENSO) are navy officers however.
According to Airbus Helicopters, the NH90’s NFH version is a ship-based compact maritime helicopter, one of the primary maritime weapon systems for any surface fleet. Operating from shore or warships up to sea state 6, the helicopter is tailored for full capability in both anti-submarine (ASW) and anti-surface unit (ASuW) warfare. Search and rescue operations can be performed in either of these configurations. Complementary roles include maritime surveillance and control, airborne warning control, logistic transport and utility support, vertical replenishment (VERTREP), casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) and special operations – including counter terrorism and anti-piracy.