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German Army’s new H145 SAR helicopter enters service

German H145 SAR helicopter
Photo: German defense ministry

The German Army has inducted the new Airbus-built H145 search and rescue (SAR) helicopters into active service, the service said on July 6.

The announcement comes six months after the first unit was delivered to the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) in December last year. The seven H145s will replace the ageing Bell UH-1D search and rescue fleet in service with the German Armed Forces’ search and rescue branch.

The Bell UH-1D model currently in use by the Bundeswehr first entered into service in the early 1970s. The new aircraft will be stationed at the sites in Niederstetten, Holzdorf and Nörvenich. According to Airbus, the last of the H145 LUH SAR (light utility helicopter search and rescue) helicopters will be delivered early 2021, once training has been completed.

The helicopters are equipped with high-performance cameras, searchlights, emergency beacon locator systems, a full suite of medical equipment, rescue winches and load hooks that can be used for fire-extinguishing tanks, for example. They are easy to identify thanks to the characteristic bright orange paintwork on their doors, featuring ‘SAR’ in blue lettering.

In addition to a search and rescue missions, the H145 is used by the country’s air force for special operations missions. The are currently 15 LUH special operations forces (LUH SOF) helicopters in service, while more could be potentially acquired for other roles. According to a Flight Global report from February this year, Germany is mulling the purchase of over 60 aircraft for training and light attack purposes.