Portuguese Air Force Receives 12th and Final EH101
Portuguese Air Force 12th and last EH101 helicopter delivered in 18 months
AgustaWestland, July 18, 2006 - UK / Italy - AgustaWestland is pleased to announce that the 12th and final EH101 Merlin helicopter for the Portuguese Air Force was delivered to Portugal this week, flying from Vergiate in Italy to Montijo, near Lisbon in Portugal. The aircraft, a Combat SAR variant, will now join the other 11 aircraft which are operated by 751 Squadron at Montijo Air Base and at Porto Santo (Madeira island) detachment. This event marks the conclusion of a successful delivery programme with all the aircraft delivered in 18 months.
In February 2006 the SAR EH101 Merlins became fully operational, replacing Puma helicopters in the SAR role. With the largest SAR area of responsibility of any European country the long range capabilities of the EH101 provides new levels of SAR capability covering a large area of the Atlantic ocean operating from bases on the mainland, Lajes in the Azores and Madeira. The 12 aircraft have now flown over 2,000 hours and have demonstrated there long range capabilities, while self deploying to the Azores. Based on a common airframe and powered by RTM322 engines, all three variants are equipped with a range of equipment including search and rescue hoist, belly mounted 360 degree Galileo Avionica, searchlight and FLIR system, multi-mission direction finding system, fully integrated communications and navigation system and a range of cabin role equipment.
The SAR variant can rescue over 30 survivors and is capable of performing rescues at 450 nm (833 km) from its base and returning when fitted with long range fuel tanks. The SIFICAP (Sistema de Fiscalizaçao e Controlo das Actividades da Pesca) or fishery protection variant is equipped with a cabin mission console for the operation of the 360 degree scan radar and other sensors. Other equipment includes an external loudspeaker, a searchlight for night operations and bubble windows. The final four aircraft are configured for Combat SAR operations and feature additional equipment for this demanding role including electronic protective measures, air-to-air refueling system, personnel locator system interrogator and a fully automatic folding system for the main rotor blades and the tail unit.
The Portuguese Government selected the EH101 in 2001 and placed a contract for 12 aircraft comprising six for Search and Rescue, two for Fishery Protection (SIFICAP – Sistema de Fiscalizaçao e Controlo das Actividades da Pesca) and four for Combat SAR. The first EH101 Merlin was delivered in December 2004.The selection of the EH101 for the Portuguese Air Force came at the end of a thorough and extensive evaluation and as a result of flight evaluation of the EH101 against the Sikorsky S-92 and the Eurocopter Cougar Mk2+. The comprehensive range of tests carried out by the Portuguese Evaluation Committee demonstrated the unrivalled capability of the EH101, and its ability to carry out the most demanding of SAR requirements. This achievement underlines the superior ability of the EH101 to satisfy the extremely demanding requirements of Combat SAR missions as well as its already well-proven performance in the maritime, transport/Utility and SAR role.
Orders for 146 EH101 have been placed to date by customers around the world including the Portuguese Air Force, the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Italian Navy, Canadian Forces, Tokyo Metropolitan Police, Royal Danish Air Force and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.