AS565 MBe Panther. Photo courtesy of Airbus Helicopters
Airbus Helicopters has finished delivering AS565 MBes to the Mexican Navy, the manufacturer said Wednesday. The final two aircraft formally exchanged hands during a ceremony in Marignane, France.
The Mexican Navy ordered 10 units in a 2014 contract. That deal saw the force become the launch customer for the new variant Panther. The first four deliveries occurred last year.
“The arrival of the MBe Panther has enhanced the Navy Aviation’s operational capabilities,” said Adm. Jose Maria Garcia Macedo, the Mexican Navy’s general director of naval aviation. “It is a modern, multi-mission helicopter that we can use in both maritime and land environments for a wide range of missions, including maritime [search and rescue], disaster relief, external load operations and even air ambulance.”
The Panther features a cargo hook, a rescue hoist, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) for night rescue missions and a total of four stretchers for medical evacuation. With the Mexican Navy, the helicopters are stationed at three naval bases in Veracruz, Sonora and Michoacan. The helicopters perform an average of 300 flight hours for reconnaissance, patrol missions and training flights.
“To help ensure success for their critical missions, we have made a technical and logistical support team available to them around the clock in Veracruz,” said Mesrob Karalekian, Airbus Helicopters’ VP for Latin America. “Some 30 pilots have also been trained, many of them receiving specific training in [search and rescue] and night-vision goggles.”
The AS565 MBe is equipped with two Safran Arriel 2N engines and features a new main gearbox, a latest-generation tail rotor and a four-axis autopilot, Airbus said.