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Bundeswehr, June 27, 2021 - The "Huey" was always there when it was needed. But now the Bell UH-1D helicopter has finally been replaced by the Airbus H145.
In the presence of Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the last of the three SARs took place in Holzdorf on April 12th as Search and Rescue-Commands changed to the new, ultra-modern successor.
For more than half a century, the distinctive sound of the Bundeswehr's Bell UH-1D rescue helicopter, affectionately known as the “carpet beater”, could be heard in the sky.
From 1968 the Bundeswehr gradually procured 340 UH-1Ds. The machines were used to transport people, fight forest fires and floods, and in search and rescue (SAR ) .
Operated for years by the Air Force, this mission has been carried out by the German Army since 2013. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the UH-1D ceremony was held on a very small scale and under extreme healthy conditions.
Colonel Andreas Springer as site elder and Colonel Peter Göhringer, the commander of the transport helicopter regiment 30, which is stationed in Niederstetten in Baden-Württemberg and with the continuous duty Search and Rescue (SAR Land), welcomed Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer at the Search and Rescue-Commando Holzdorf.
Despite the sadness of the legendary UH-1D being withdrawn from service, she described the weapon system change as a good day for the Bundeswehr search and rescue service in her speech. A symbol of the Bundeswehr that could be seen and heard for over 50 years would then disappear. "This is a legend that we are going to retire today," said the minister. However, a worthy successor in the form of the H145 would be available.
The deputy commander of the Rapid Forces Division, Brigadier General Andreas Pfeifer, emphasized the high level of motivation and professionalism of the departments involved, which all of them, thanks to their perfect cooperation, would have made the project a success. Everyone could rightly be proud of that.
The H145 LUH SAR became the successor to the “Huey” in December 2018Search and Rescueof the Donauwörth company Airbus and the delivery of the first helicopter took place just one year later. In the meantime, all seven machines that were ordered have been handed over to the army and the training of all 51 pilots was completed before Christmas last year. During a press event in the presence of the Army Inspector, the first weapon system change from UH-1D to H145 at the SAR took place on July 6th Search and Rescue(L) in Niederstetten, which was followed by the change in Nörvenich on December 7th.
The "open heart surgery", ie the conversion to a new weapon system while maintaining on-call duty at all three SARs Search and Rescue(L) commands is another important step, but Göhringer does not see the change as complete. In 2021, the focus is on professionalising the crews and expanding their mountain flight capabilities.
Goodbye Huey Tour
The Bell UH-1D can still be seen in the sky over Germany until the end of June 2021. On the occasion of decommissioning, a helicopter was given a special paint job, which could also be seen during the minister's visit. During a “Goodbye Huey Tour”, the “carpet beater” will say goodbye to selected airfields in Germany, provided the restrictions of the Covid19 pandemic permit. After that, the "Goodbye Huey" can only be admired in the helicopter museum in Bückeburg. The name "Huey" comes from the original type designation HU
As a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO ), the Federal Republic of Germany has undertaken to search for and rescue missing or crashed aircraft over its territory, which would actually be the task of the Federal Ministry of Transport. In the absence of its own aircraft, this is done by the Bundeswehr, with the sea and coastal area being monitored by the Navy. The 30th Transport Helicopter Regiment operates three SARs on behalf of the ArmySearch and Rescue-Commands in Niederstetten (Baden-Württemberg), Holzdorf (Brandenburg) and Nörvenich.
All rescue helicopters of the Bundeswehr are alerted by the RCC ( Rescue Coordination Center) in Münster, which is also connected to civilian control centers. In addition to the search and rescue service, there are SARsSearch and Rescue-Helicopters are also ready around the clock and 365 days a year if civil rescue helicopters are not available or do not have the necessary technical equipment (e.g. rescue winch).
The new SARs are medically equipped Search and Rescue-Machines such as a civil rescue helicopter. In addition, they have the latest search avionics, such as thermal imaging devices or mobile phone location, various communication facilities, a day and night vision camera, searchlights, a rescue winch and an external load hook, for example for the use of fire extinguishing containers. In contrast to civil rescue helicopters, the SAR Search and Rescue-Helicopter of the Bundeswehr ready for use even at night, which is why the crew consists of two pilots and an air rescue master trained as an emergency paramedic