Two AgustaWestland AW139s have now entered service with the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) in the maritime search and rescue role. The helicopters arrived in the country in early October, prior to being formally inducted into service on December 6 at Bangabandhu Air Base/Dhaka-Kurmitola during a ceremony attended by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and high-ranking military officials.
The AW139s, the first of the type operated by the BAF, have joined 1 Squadron, based at Chittagong-Zahurul Haque Air Base. In addition to their SAR role, they will also be used for utility missions. They have given the country its first dedicated maritime SAR capability. The specialised quipment fit on the AW139s includes a search/weather radar, forward-looking infra-red, searchlight, rescue hoist, emergency flotation gear and a state-of-the-art four-axis dual digital automatic flight control system with hover and SAR modes.
Also inducted into service at the December 6 ceremony were the BAF’s first six Yakovlev Yak-130s combat trainiers. They had been airfreighted into Chittagong on September 20 on board an An-124. A total of 16 are on order under a contract announced on July 14, 2014, for operation by 21 Squadron The Avengers’ at Chittagong. Alan Warnes