STUTTGART, Germany — The Spanish air force has taken delivery of the first NH90 helicopter meant to upgrade its aging combat search-and-rescue fleet.

NHIndustries — a joint venture between Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo, and Fokker Technologies — has delivered the first of 12 NH90 tactical transport helicopters that will eventually replace Spain’s fleet of AS332 Super Pumas. These new aircraft will be based in Cuatro Vientos, according to an Oct. 14 statement by Airbus.

Madrid has already received 13 NH90 rotorcraft meant for the Spanish Army Airmobile Force (FAMET), the nation’s army aviation branch, per Airbus. The government has ordered a total of 45 helicopters to be operated by all three armed forces, split into two contracts worth €1.26 billion ($1.67 billion) and €1.38 billion ($1.57 billion) each.

The Spanish air force is expected to receive one additional NH90 helicopter in 2020, and four more in 2021, an Airbus spokesperson told Defense News.

In the statement, Spain’s General of the Air Force Javier Salto called the NH90 “an essential asset” that will support search-and-rescue missions in hostile conditions, “one of the most demanding and complex missions for helicopter units.” It will also provide tactical transport for troops and logistics support for peacekeeping and reconstructive missions.

The Spanish NH90 variant is built at Airbus Helicopter España’s plant in Albacete, and the company manufactures the fuselage, along with the avionics software and integration. The helicopter features General Electric CT7 8F5 engines and a personalized communications system. Spain’s Indra Sistemas provides the electronic warfare system, along with training simulators, automatic maintenance equipment and an automatic mission planning system.

NHIndustries also recently announced that it has signed a production contract for 10 upgraded NH90 helicopters for the French special forces, with deliveries planned in 2025 and 2026. The NH90 rotorcraft is currently in use by 10 European nations, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Oman, and Qatar.

Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany. She has written for Foreign Policy, Defense Daily, National Defense Magazine, and the Dayton Daily News.