On 29th September, the Mexican Navy took delivery of the first of the 10 upgraded AS565 MBe Panther helicopters it purchased in 2014, becoming the first customer in the world to receive the new variant. The Navy — which has more than 10 years’ experience of flying the Panther — will receive three other units before the end of the year and the remaining six by 2018.
The helicopters will be operated in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Pacific coast, where they will perform a range of missions including Search and Rescue (SAR), disaster relief transportation and evacuation, drug enforcement and coastal protection.
The AS565 MBe is equipped with two Safran Arriel 2N engines offering enhanced performance in hot & high conditions, a top speed of 278 km/h and a range of 780km. It also boasts a new main gearbox, a latest-generation tail rotor and a 4-axis autopilot to reduce crew workload.
Mexican Naval Aviation’s AS565 MBe Panthers fulfill NATO’s regulatory requirements in performing landings on moving ships 24 hours a day, and are thus able to operate right across Mexico’s territorial waters. Their equipment suite includes a main- and tail-rotor blade folding system, a deck-lock harpoon and an emergency flotation system.