Tag Archives: Agusta Bell

Overview: Albanian Air Force

Albanian Air Force (Forca Ajrore; FAj), status as of 1 January 2015
(© 2015 Airheadsfly.com. Featured image: The Albanian Air Force is a sole rotary air arm since 2006 (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura))

Active number of aircraft Albanian Air Force: 22

  • 2x Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) AS532AL transport helicopters.
  • 1x Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) AS532AL medevac helicopter.
  • 1x Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) AS532AL combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter.
  • 8x MBB Bo 105 light utility helicopters.
  • 3x Agusta Bell (Bell) 205 utility and transport helicopters. Status of another four unknown.
  • 5x Agusta Bell (Bell) 206 (Jet Ranger) scout and utility helicopters. Status of another two unknown.
  • 1x AgustaWestland A109 utility helicopter
  • 1x Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) EC145 VIP transport helicopter

Aircraft ordered: 2

  • 2x Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) EC145 utility, rescue and disaster relief helicopters.

Airbases: 2 (plus Tirana IAP as a reserve field)

(Source: Forcat e Amatosura)

    • Färke Airbase
      • 4x AS532AL
      • 1x EC145
      • 1x A109
      • Regular operations by Bo 105, AB 205 and AB 206
      • Stored: several Harbin helicopters.
    • Kuçovë Airbase
      • Regular operations by Bo 105, AB 205 and AB 206. Uncertainty about which types are officially based here.
      • Stored: Chengdu F-7A (12) plus many dozens of MiG-15s, MiG-17s and MiG-19s and Shenyang F-5 and F-6.
    • Nënë Tereza / Tirana International Airport
      • Support for foreign visits and reserve field.

    Shooting Range (aka very nice shots)

    One of the four new AS532AL Cougar helicopters of the Albanian Air Force (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    One of the four new AS532AL Cougar helicopters of the Albanian Air Force (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)

    The MBB Bo 105s from the backbone of the Albanian Air Force. From the dozen ex-German Air Force machines eight are airworthy One of the four new AS532AL Cougar helicopters of the Albanian Air Force (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    The MBB Bo 105s form the backbone of the Albanian Air Force. From the dozen ex-German Air Force machines eight are airworthy One of the four new AS532AL Cougar helicopters of the Albanian Air Force (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)

    The Bo 105s are known to practically land anywhere (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    The Bo 105s are known to practically land anywhere (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    And with anywhere, we also mean the rooftop of houses during emergency relief operations (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    And by anywhere, we also mean the rooftop of houses during emergency relief operations (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Operating easily together are the licensed versions of the Iroquois and the Jet Ranger, made in Italy as Agusta-Bell AB205 and AB206 (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Operating easily together are the licensed versions of the Iroquois and the Jet Ranger, made in Italy as Agusta-Bell AB 205 and AB 206 (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    The Agusta-Bell AB205 is the standard troop insertion helicopter  (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    The Agusta-Bell AB 205 is the standard troop insertion helicopter (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    One doesn't easily recognize the single A109C as a military helicopter, but actually is  (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    One doesn’t easily recognize the single A109C as a military helicopter, but it actually is (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Flashy red is this VIP EC145, soon to be joined by a pair of emergency relief versions that come instead of a fifth Cougar. That AS532 crashed before it was ever delivered. (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Flashy red and white is this VIP EC145, soon to be joined by a pair of emergency relief versions that come instead of a fifth Cougar. That AS532 crashed before it was ever delivered. (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Kuçovë Airbase is where the Albanian Air Force keeps its fighter aircraft in still pretty fair shape. Until 2005 the country operated a mixture of Russian-made and Chinese copies of the MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19 and MiG-21. Four of them form an honour guard at Kuçovë (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Kuçovë Airbase is where the Albanian Air Force keeps its fighter aircraft in still pretty fair shape. Until 2005 the country operated a mixture of Russian-made and Chinese copies of the MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19 and a dozen Chengdu F-7s (Chinese-made MiG-21s). Four of the older MiG-types form a honour guard at westside of the field of Kuçovë (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Dozens of the old fighter force are parked at Kuçovë, where they get visited every once in a while (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Many dozens of the old fighter force are parked at Kuçovë, where they get visited every once in a while (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Rumours still have it that some of the Nanchang CJ-6 trainers will be brought back into service, but so far none of these have been confirmed by the Albanian Ministry of Defence (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Rumours still have it that some of the Nanchang CJ-6 trainers will be brought back into service, but so far none of these have been confirmed by the Albanian Ministry of Defence (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Officially no longer on strength are ten surviving Harbin Y-5s, the Chinese copy of the legendary Antonov AN-2 ("Colt")  (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Officially no longer on strength are nine surviving Harbin Y-5s, the Chinese copy of the legendary Antonov AN-2 (“Colt”) (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Old times: an Albanian MiG-19 rolled out of its shelter. (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)
    Old times: an Albanian MiG-19 rolled out of its shelter at Kuçovë (Image © FAj / Forcat e Amatosura)

    AHF↑Inside: Austrian AB212 on top

    “So, what would you like us to do?”, say two Agusta Bell AB212 helicopter pilots, the badges on their flying suits identifying them as ‘Bundesheer’ pilots. “Err, just fly around a bit”, comes the unrehearsed answer of two Airheadsfly.com editors. The pilots take off, turn around and have decided on what they will really do. They position their five tonnes chopper almost on top of two totally unprepared Airheadsfly.com editors, ensuring camera bags, lens caps, sunglasses, note pads and lost ego’s fly everywhere. The noise is deafening, the wind is blinding and for a moment, peaceful Austria seems far, far away.

    But still, we are in Linz, Austria, where two Staffels (squadrons) fly the 23 Agusta Bell AB212 helicopters in service with the Austrian Air Force. “But, I have to say, we are experiencing quiet times now”, says ‘Staffelkommandant’ Andreas Buchmayr as he enters one the hangers that usually house flocks of AB212s, but now only shelter two. “A lot of them are in maintenance or are being given an update – and new life – in Italy by Agusta Westland. Here at Linz, we currently have to make ends meet with only a few available helicopters.”

    (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    One of several AB212s at Linz already modified with new cockpit technology. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

    Mainstay
    The AB212 has been a mainstay of Austria’s helicopter transport capability since entry into service in 1980. As the fleet amassed over 115,000 flight hours in 2010, an 85 million USD update program was ordered. The goal is to get another 25 years or 100,000 hours out of the helicopters. Modifications bring the 212’s avionics up to par with the latests aviation technology. Self defense suites are also being built into the AB212. The first two modernized choppers were handed over to Kommando Luftunterstützung (Air Support Command) in November 2013.

    (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    A familiar shape, showing Bell UH-1 Huey heritage. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

    Cockpit
    “It’s actually pretty impressive”, says Buchmayr, who has 3,200 flight hours behind his name and helped develop the AB212 update. “We have a unique set of MFDs in the cockpit, designed exactly to our specifications and making full use of digital technology. Cockpit managment is now completely paperless, as all maps are available on the MFDs, along with complete systems management. It greatly reduces crew workload and makes for easier navigation and communication. The cockpit is now also adapted for use with Helmet Mounted Displays. Flight safety during bad weather and during night time, is greatly improved. Actually, our AB212 helicopters are now at the very top worldwide as far as cockpit technology goes.”

    20140521_LINZ_AB212_5DHL_HANGAR
    Minor work being done on a AB212 in Linz. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

    New cockpits or not, the AB212 mission in Austria remains the same; transporting troops, performing search and rescue operations, fighting fires with bambi buckets and alpine flying in the mountains. The AB212 is a very versatile utility helicopter, which is no wonder considering its Bell UH-1 Huey heritage.

    So, it’s also no wonder the Austrians want to keep in service for a lot longer. The update program is planned to by complete by 2016, at which time the hangers at Linz will be filled with choppers once again. Pilots will be fully trained on the new cockpit, and when they ask “so, what would you like us to do?”, two totally prepared Airheadsfly.com editors will know what to answer.

    © 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

    (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    Quiet times allow for a bit of relaxing…. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    …. until it’s time to fly! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    Testing being done before a testflight! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    (Image © Dennis Spronk)
    “Just fly around a bit.” (Image © Dennis Spronk)

    Austrians deploy large air force for Swiss security

    An Austrian Eurofighter Typhoon on patrol on 24 January 2014 during the World Economic Forum in Swiss Davos (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)
    An Austrian Eurofighter Typhoon on patrol on 24 January 2014 during the World Economic Forum in Swiss Davos (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)

    The Austrian Armed Forces (Österreichs Bundesheer) deployed a large air force of 30 aircraft and helicopters and 1100 troops from 21 to 26 January 2014 to help secure the World Economic Forum in Davos in neighbouring Switzerland.

    During the entire event Austrian aircraft were present practically 24/7 in the skies over Tirol and Vorarlberg. Any aircraft that entered the area were identified and escorted away. Fortunately, no potential threats posed a big risk.

    All available aircraft types of the Bundesheer were deployed during the summit, from the Alouette III, Agusta Bell AB 212s and S-70 Black Hawks to the Eurofighter Typhoons. The Austrian and Swiss Air Forces transferred information electronically, with both countries having liaison officers attached to the air ops staff in the neighbouring nation. Einsatzzentrale Basisraum in St. Johann in Pongau was the Austrian nerve centre during the operation.

    Although no information has been given on the number of flight hours made by the aircraft deployed, the air time will be taken off from the yearly quota of each air asset.

    Source: Österreichs Bundesheer

    Related posts

    Check out the Austrian Air Force Orbat at Scramble.nl

    Modernised Austrian AB 212s: 25 years extra

    Archive photo of a pair of Austrian AB 212s dropping troops during a military exercise (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)
    Archive photo of a pair of Austrian AB 212s dropping troops during a military exercise (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)

    Austrian defence minister Gerald Klug officially transferred the first pair of modernised Agusta Bell 212 to the Air Support Command of the Austrian Armed Forces on 6 November 2013.

    The machines of Kommando Luftunterstützung most of all got new avionics and mission gear. Moreover pilots the Österreichs Bundesheer Bell pilots are now able to fly with night vision goggles, increasing the availability of the helicopters at night and in adverse weather conditions. The AB 212s also got a new self-defence suite, including electronic systems like a missile warner, radar lock receiver and a chaff/flare ejection system.

    The Agusta Bell 212 is a medium-size tactical transport helicopter with a main two-blade rotor, two turbine engines and enough space to carry 14 personnel. The Austrian Armed Forces use the machine not only for military offensive and defensive operations with for example the 25 Ranger Battalion (Jägerbataillon) or paratroopers, but also for rescue and mountain flying and to combat forest fires.

    All 23 AB 212s are due to have undergone the update by 2015. Defence minister Klug believes the modernisation adds another 25 years of service life to the fleet.

    Source: Österreiches Bundesheer

    Right now: Hot Blade 2013 in Portugal

    FAP Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin 15904 (Image © Força Aérea Portuguesa)
    FAP Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin 15904 (Image © Força Aérea Portuguesa)

    If you like choppers, Portugal is the place to be these days as the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa; FAP) hosts the multinational helicopter exercise Hote Blade 13 at Ovar Airbase near the city of Porto.

    Hot Blade 13 will see the involvement of 38 aircraft, including two Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin helicopters from the FAP itself and possibly even a few of the FAP’s F-16 fighter aircraft.

    The Royal Netherlands Air Force contributes an Eurocopter AS 532U2 Mk II Cougar and as much as up to five Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks.

    The Austrian Air Force sent three Agusta Bell AB 212s and three Bell OH-58 Kiowas. Four Belgian Air Component Agusta A109BAs has joined the exercise, as well as up to eight German Army UH-1D ‘Hueys’.

    Hot Blade 13 started on July 17th and will last till July 31st.

    Source: Força Aérea Portuguesa, NL Ministerie van Defensie