The Macedonian Air Force (Makedonsko Voeno Vozduhoplovstvo) has taken delivery of a 1999-produced Bell 206B-3 JetRanger III (c/n 4513, ex EI-MER) training helicopter. The 206B-3 is fully operational within Macedonia’s Pilot Training Center (COP), a joint venture between Elbit Systems of Israel and Macedonian Ministry of Defense that traces back to May 2011.
The aircraft (401) was procured second-hand from the Irish company Gaelic Helicopters and delivered to COP at Petrovec air force base on Nov. 22, 2012. This helicopter is the first of four such aircraft that Elbit Systems plans to deliver to Macedonia by the end of 2013, together with two full-mission Mi-17/171 and Mi-24 simulators that are currently in the final stage of production by Simultec of Romania. The Macedonian COP uses five Zlin 242L piston-engine training planes (serials 102-106) that have previously served with the Macedonian Air Force.
The introduction of Bell 206 to the Pilot Training Center fulfills the Macedonian Air Force’s ambition to get its future helicopter pilots trained on the type. This represents the first procurement of helicopter for the needs of Macedonian military aviation since 2001, when a major procurement of Soviet-era aircraft were the platforms of choice at that time. Apart from keeping Macedonian Air Force insignia on all its aircraft, the COP has also decided to unify the fleet color scheme. The entire COP infrastructure together with all its aircraft and simulators will became the property of the Macedonian Air Force when the contract between Elbit Systems and Macedonia’s Ministry of Defense expires in 2019.