Belgium is expected to receive a first of 17 new H145M helicopters in 2026 (Airbus).

BELFAST — Airbus and NATO agreed on a contract today for 15 H145M multirole helicopters for Belgium’s army, in addition to two aircraft for its federal police service.

The contract was signed on the margins of the Eurosatory trade show in Paris, France, said the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) in a statement, adding that it has committed to an initial five year support contract and revealing a first aircraft delivery is expected in 2026. NSPA acts as a procurement agency on behalf of smaller alliance members, so while this is technically a deal between NATO and Airbus, Belgium will have final operational control of the rotorcraft.

The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) acquisition is aligned to the Belgian Ministry of Defense’s STAR (Security, Service, Technology, Ambition and Resilience) program.

“Through this purchase, [the] Belgian Defence will obtain an efficient tactical airlift capability for Special Operations and a medical evacuation capability by air,” said NSPA. “Leveraging the same platforms will enable commonality and interoperability in terms of technical support, training and execution of missions between the Belgian Defence and the Belgian Federal Police.”

Additional deployments for the new aircraft include humanitarian missions and protecting Belgian airspace during NATO and EU events.

NSPA also noted the H145M can be reconfigured from a light attack role based around “axial ballistic and guided weapons and a state-of-the-art self-protection system into a special operations version including fast rappelling equipment.”

Belgium’s order follows on from Germany’s December 2023 deal for up to 82 of the light twin-engine rotorcraft. Other European operators include Hungary, Serbia and Luxembourg. Brunei, Cyprus and the UK have also ordered the aircraft.

The US Army operates a fleet of almost 500 H145 helicopters, more commonly referred to as the UH-72 Lakota, which serve as the service’s initial entry rotary wing trainer.

The H145 global fleet has so far amassed more than seven million flight hours, according to Airbus figures.