The Belgian Navy's NH90s have achieved initial operational capability and now are available for land-based and at-sea search-and-rescue missions, the service said Aug. 21. The Naval Component of the Belgian Armed Forces has three of the NHIndustries aircraft in the NATO Frigate Helicopter configuration; a fourth is expected to be delivered early next year. The NH90s, which will replace five Westland-built Sea King Mk.48s in the SAR role by the end of 2018, are operated for 40 Squadron at Koksijde Air Base, about 10 mi east of Dunkirk. They also will replace Aérospatiale SA-316B Alouette IIIs in the at-sea SAR role. Navy crews have been working for three years to achieve this qualification of the "Caiman" aircraft. "We have worked very hard for the retraining of Sea King to NH90," said one pilot, Commander Valerie Verkeyn. "It is a great event to become operational."