The Lithuanian Air Force received its first of three Airbus Helicopters (Aérospatiale / Eurocopter) AS365N3+ Dauphins on 2 June 2015. Before the end of the year the new search and rescue / environmental patrol asset is expected to number all three machines.
Russian-made Mil Mi-8 Hip choppers will be replaced with the new Western European helicopter already operational with many of the world’s armed force and SAR services. The main task of the Dauphins is civil and military SAR, including missions supporting NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. The latter meaning the rescue of fighter jocks of NATO’s combat aircraft in case they eject from their planes in case of an emergency.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Environment, which co-purchased the machines with the Ministry of Defence, gets 75 flight hours on the Dauphins a year, for environmental observation and control. The AS365s are also to deploy as fire-fighters and to transport organs for transplantation.
The Lithuanian Armed Forces signed the procurement contract with Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) on the three Eurocopter AS365N3+ Dauphins in October 2013, for about 52 million euro including the training of pilots.
The Dauphins are equipped with a weather/SAR radar, infrared sensors, searchlight, an autopilot and other equipment to make recovery of people possible about 125 miles (200 km) from the take-off point possible. The Lithuanian Armed Forces have SAR detachments at Kaunas-Aleksotas in the south of the country and at Nemirseta on the Baltic Sea coast in the west.
Source: Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania