AGUSTAWESTLAND announced today (July 8) that the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) have placed an order for their third AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopter. The aircraft will primarily be used to perform maritime border control missions. Malta’s Home Affairs Minister, Carmelo Abela, had first revealed the order on July 6, saying the contract had been signed the previous week.
The AW139 was selected following an extensive evaluation process and the manufacturer says that its unmatched capability, performance and value for money characteristics, were factors influencing the choice. The overall fleet of three aircraft and a significant training package for pilots and technicians is part of the ongoing plan to strengthen the capabilities of the AFM, which benefit from the European Borders Fund and Internal Security Fund Programmes. The introduction into service of this modern helicopter category is a major boost to Malta’s national security and rescue operations.
The AW139 is fitted with a state-of-the-art equipment package for maritime patrol and search and rescue missions that includes a high-definition FLIR system, search/weather radar, cabin mission console, naval transponder, search light, satellite communication system, a four-axis autopilot with SAR modes, external rescue hoist and four bag floatation system.
An order for the AFM’s first AW139, which also included options on two more, was announced on July 19, 2013. The first helicopter was delivered to Malta on June 14, 2014, and officially inaugurated into service on August 6. AgustaWestland announced on April 10, 2014, that the first of the two options had been converted into a firm order. It was then delivered to Malta on December 18, 2014. Today’s announcement marks conversion of the second option into a firm order. Alan Warnes