AFTER 34 years of service, the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) finally retired the last of its three Fokker F27-200MPA maritime patrol aircraft on December 13 after a final flight at Las Palmas/Gando Air Base on the Canary Islands. The type had first entered service in February 1979 and all three were operated by 802 Escuadrón in the search and rescue (SAR) role, alongside the AS332B Super Puma and AS532 Cougar, which continue to be used by the unit for SAR missions.
The first F27 was retired earlier this year and placed in store at Gando, while the second aircraft was flown to Cuatro Vientos during April 2013 for display at the Museo del Aire.
These aircraft have now been replaced in the role at Gando by two SAR-configured CN-235 VIGMA (Vigilancia Marítima, or Maritime Surveillance) aircraft, converted from standard transport aircraft that were already in Spanish Air Force service.
A total of six CN235s have been converted to the VIGMA configuration and are operated as a SAR pool, rotating between units. However, normally two of the type are based at Gando with 802 Escuadrón, while two others will be with 801 Escuadrón at Son San Juan and the remaining two with 803 Escuadrón at Cuatro Vientos.