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Mission accomplished

in all theaters of engagement


Whether it be combat, saving lives, protecting local populations, performing homeland surveillance, or fighting the war on drug trafficking and terrorism, it’s all in a day’s work for the exceptional group of men below who agreed to share their experiences.

USA: Lakota, perfectly sized for disaster response

“We were the first Army National Guard unit to receive the UH-72 Lakota back in June 2008. Since entering service, our eight helicopters have been used on a constant basis to provide assistance to local populations through a wide range of missions. In 2010, we worked for over six months to help contain the oil spill following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Our Lakotas performed surveillance missions, acted as radio relays for participating authorities, and guided seafaring vessels as far as 200 km off the coast. When the Mississippi River caused catastrophic flooding the following year, we were called in once again for a largescale intervention. And last year, after a series of deadly tornadoes struck the midwest, the Lakota’s compact design made it possible for us to quickly take action. We were the first response teams to reach the site, and were able to land in close vicinity to the tornado victims. We were also able to land at all the helicopter landing pads at local hospitals.”

- Lieutenant colonel James Haynie, commander of the 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment of the Mississippi Army National Guard.

Bolivia: The C1e, an invaluable tool for the war on drugs

Airbus Helicopters Bolivia C1e

“La Fuerza de Tarea Aérea Diablos Rojos (or ‘Red Devils’) is an elite Bolivian Air Force unit that has been fighting the war on drugs since 1987 in cooperation with other military and law enforcement units. Thanks to our president's efforts, our recently acquired Super Puma AS332 C1e helicopters have enabled us to intensify our mission. The two new rotorcraft, baptized the ‘Jatun Puma,’ have already logged 453 flight hours since the first unit was delivered in August 2014. Our fleet will include six of these helicopters by 2016. The reason we chose the C1e is clear: We wanted to have the best helicopter available to help us crack down on drug traffickers, and the C1e provides us with all the tools we need. Its multi-mission capabilities are astonishing, and it offers excellent carrying capacity (up to twenty passengers).

We also appreciate its SAR capabilities, modern avionics and endurance of up to three hours and twenty minutes thanks to a sixth fuel tank. All these features make it the perfect helicopter for effectively fighting against drug trafficking, as we must constantly adapt to changing conditions and unpredictable events. The logistics support and maintenance services provided by Airbus Helicopters since the start of operations have enabled us to maximize the effectiveness of our helicopters.”

- Colonel Fredy Oscar Taborga, Commander of the Fuerza de Tarea Aérea “Red Devils

Mali: Faster and farther

tiger Airbus Helicopters

“In 2013, the French government decided to launch Operation Serval in Mali on short notice, and the French armed forces had to react quickly following this decision. We were asked to rapidly deploy strike forces over distances of as much as 500 kilometers, and to strike hard. Our helicopters proved to be the perfect tool for these types of operations. However, we knew the logistics would be complicated, leading some to believe that the helicopters wouldn’t be able to keep up with such a fast-moving desert campaign. We were able to make the necessary adaptations and change the way we organized our maintenance. When I arrived in Bamako at the start of the operation, I had forty containers filled with spare parts. When we reached Timbuktu a few weeks later, only ten percent of that initial stock remained. Our northern advance through Mali was so rapid that it was impossible for the spare part flow to keep up with us. We were making intensive use of our helicopters at the time, and the scheduled maintenance and overhauls kept getting closer and closer! But we were able to adapt and keep our helicopters in the air thanks to the tireless efforts of our mechanics. They had to work in the dust and

sweltering heat, often with only a rudimentary tool kit, and were faced with extremely sketchy sanitary conditions. I would like to pay tribute to them. Thanks to their dedication, the Tiger, Puma and Gazelle helicopters under my command—some twenty rotorcraft in all—never let us down and were always available.”

- Colonel Frédéric Gout, former commander of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment.

France: The unbeatable response plan of the French Air Gendarmerie to Charlie attacks

Charlie Hebdo H135 H145

“Our response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last January fully demonstrated the effectiveness of the regional coverage provided by the Air Gendarmerie. When we received confirmation on the morning of January 8 that the terrorists were attempting to leave Paris, we were able to quickly mobilize seven of our H135s and H145s. The H135s, equipped with TV/infrared cameras and real- time image transmission systems, were primarily used to hunt down the escape vehicle. In parallel, the H145s were assigned to fire support missions and transported snipers and special operations units from the GIGN and RAID. Thanks to the onboard mapping and flight control systems of our H135s and H145s, our flight crews were able to fly at low altitudes with night vision goggles over areas covering hundreds of kilometers—despite the poor weather conditions. The live feed of images to the regional Gendarmerie units deployed on the ground proved to be invaluable. Helicopters were on permanent patrol with infrared searchlights and thermal cameras, helping to close the net around the terrorists, and Gendarmerie units patrolling on the ground finally caught up with them on the morning of January 9. Pumas from the GIH joint helicopter forces were quickly deployed to the site, where the elite units of the GIGN fast-roped down into position. They received support during the maneuver from two H135s of the Gendarmerie that had taken up a position near the building where the terrorists were holed up, and were eventually neutralized.”

- General Daniel Leimbacher, commander of the French Air Gendarmerie

Mexico: Panther bolsters territorial surveillance

AS565 MBe Airbus Helicopters

"The Mexican Navy operates four AS565 MB Panthers, and a portion of the fleet is assigned to the Coatzacoalcos navy air base in the state of Veraruz. Our primary mission with the Panthers is to bolster the territorial surveillance capabilities of the Mexican Navy in the region. In addition to patrol and surveillance missions, the navy also performs maritime search and rescues. A rescue hoist is always installed in our Panthers, along with a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) if necessary, to provide assistance to local populations in the wake of natural disasters. We have performed relief work both here in Mexico (in 2007, of example, after intense flooding struck the state of Tabasco) and abroad (such as in Haiti, where the Panthers were quickly reconfigured as air ambulances and performed evacuations with onboard medical teams after the island was hit by an earthquake). Each of our Panthers logs an average of three hundred flight hours per year. Last April, when a fire broke out on the Pemex oil rig in the Bay of Campeche, one of our Panthers flew reconnaissance missions to local missing persons. On that same day, it was also used to perform a medical evacuation of a man with heart problems. It should also be noted that we receive technical support from Airbus Helicopters specialists directly at our base, which is something that we truly appreciate."

- Rear Admiral Alberto Valerio Verduzco, commander of the Coatzacoalcos navy air base, and Commander Esteban Jesús Peña Maldonado, commander of the first naval squadron, which has logged 1,315 flight hours on the Panther.