Belgium Purchases NH-90 Helis, Iveco Trucks, Second-Hand FrigatesJan 12, 2006 03:57 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
DID does its best to cover global developments, but language barriers and less transparency sometimes make it harder to cover certain countries. In July 2005, we covered about $1.2 billion in planned Belgian defense purchases. Fortunately a Belgian reader named David Vandenberghe was happy to step up to the plate recently to let us know about some other recent announcements from his country, then lend us a hand digging up the information we needed.
David notes that “Getting a dollar or Euro figure is hard certainly for Belgium, there seems to be an unwillingless to specify the acquisition cost and there certainly is political unwill towards more open information (FOIA-type) on ‘who gets what piece of the industrial/commercial cake’.” Nevertheless, he has done a commendable job. Thanks to some additional research by DID, we can now flesh out some of Belgium’s recent purchases, from NH-90 helicopters to Iveco trucks and even the two frigates we mentioned in July 2005.
DID has covered the frigate sale’s preliminaries back on July 25, 2005:
“After a series of failed attempts to acquire second-hand M-Class frigates from the Dutch Navy and Type 23 frigates from the UK (all of which ended up going to Chile), a second opportunity has opened up to acquire two M-Class multipurpose frigates from the Dutch government. The new frigates would replace the Wielingen and Westdiep now in service.. This acquisition is intended to cover the Belgian Navy’s escort capabilities until about 2025…”
On December 21, 2005, the Dutch government signed an agreement to transfer two M Class frigates to Belgium, which will replace the country’s two 1970s vintage Wielingen Class frigates [N.B. en Francais]. The frigates transferred will reportedly be the F827 Karel Doorman and F829 Willem van der Zaan. Both ships were commissioned in 1991. They will be renamed (new names TBD) before entering service with the Belgian Navy between 2007-2008. David informs us that “the price for the M-class frigates is between EUR 110 and 120 million per ship, a total of EUR 220 to 240 million.” This tracks closely to DID’s July 2005 estimate of “about EUR 100 million per ship.”
The sale will leave the RNLN with just 4 of its original 8 Karel Doorman Class frigates, as Abraham Van Der Hulst (F832) and Tjerk Hiddes (F830) have been sold to the Chilean Navy. A release from the Netherlands Ministry of Defence notes that funds obtained from the sale will be used by the Royal Netherlands Navy for the acquisition of patrol vessels. David points out that a number of documents and statements have emerged, with requirements varying from “patrol vessel” to “corvette” – but adds that the Royal Schelde SIGMA ships with their interesting approach to modularity could fit either requirement.
The contract for the 8-ton Iveco trucks [N.B: "X-ton truck" always refers to its cargo capacity, not its weight] was discussed in a December 20, 2005 release [N.B. en Francais]. The contract was apparently signed back in 2004 apparently for EUR 70 million, in order to replace the existing MAN trucks. As the May 2005 Armada Magazine noted, it consists of 400 Iveco M250 series 40WM 6×6 8-ton trucks with a further 379 on option. All trucks will have land mine protection for the cabins, and the contract also covers 350 add-on armor kits for defense against small arms. Deliveries began recently and will run to 2008.
In other orders, Iveco is also in the process of delivering Belgium 150 M410-E44H 8×8 flatbed trucks equipped with the Tam flatbed system. They also hold the EUR 75 million contract for 440 new LATVs and 120 armor protection kits. The LATVs are lightweight 4Ã–4 vehicles that are called MLVs by Iveco and Panther CLVs in Britain. They look like enlarged counterparts to the Hummer, and are – albeit at twice the weight, and with significantly better mine protection than an up-armored HMMWV even before the MLV’s armor protection kit is added.
David notes that “there is no contract signed for the NH-90, just the official intention to purchase the NH-90 was declared by the council of ministers.” The intent, expressed on Dec 14, 2005, involves 10 NHIndustries NH-90 naval utility helicopters.
Once an order has been firmly placed and a date set for delivery, the helicopters will be responsible for providing the Belgium armed forces with transport and search & rescue (SAR), possibly replacing the country’s current fleet of 7 ageing SA318 Alouette II/III and 3 Sea King Mk48 helicopters and very likely crewing the new M class frigates. David informs DID that Belgium’s ships, including the new M Class frigates, may require reinforcement to their landing decks in order to accommodate the NH-90.
At this stage, there is no price information for the NH-90.
- Armada Magazine (May 2005) – “Wagon Train” [PDF]. Details the Iveco truck contracts. Note that this links leads to a PDF version of the entire publication, which covers subjects from transport aircraft and the USA’s coming FCA competition to new LHD and LPD ship designs around the world.