French helicopter manifacturer Aérospatiale (now Airbus Helicopters) developed this tactical transport helicopter from its Puma collaboration with Westland Helicopters.First flown in 1977 (AS332 Super Puma), it went on to enter widespread service: Chile, Malawi, Slovenia, Spain and Switserland being just five of its many military customers.The Royal Netherlands Air force procured 17 examples that have in-part replaced its Alouette III and Bo-105s. The first helicopters were delivered in 1996. Today 12 equip its 300 Squadron, based at Gilze-Rijen Airbase.
Essentially tasked with tactical transport duties, these AS532U2 Cougars are also fire-fighters, suppressing blazes with up to 2,500 liters of Bambi Bucket-dropped water and Search and Rescue (SAR) platforms. The Cougar helicopters also support maritime operations on board of the Netherlands Royal Navy Landing Platform Docks (LPD) Zr. Ms. Rotterdam and Zr. Ms. Johan de Wittas well the Joint Support Ship (JSS) Zr. Ms. Karel Doorman.
Overseas deployments for the Netherlands' Cougar force have included several Counter Piracy tours in Somalia (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2017), two rounds of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) support in Afghanistan (2006-2007 and again in 2008-2010), plus involvement in NATO's Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001-2004) and the SFIR (Stabilisation Force Iraq) missions for 2004 and 2005.
A RNLAF Cougar flying over the English coastline