Airbus H145M; Credit: Directorate of Defence

On Friday, Luxembourg Airport hosted a ceremony presenting the first of two new Airbus H145M helicopters.

The ceremony was held at the Luxembourg Airport VIP lounge in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Minister for Internal Security, François Bausch, Interior Minister Taina Bofferding, Chief of Staff of the Luxembourg Army, Alain Duschène, Chief of Police Philippe Schrantz, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) and Airbus.

On this occasion, the Directorate of Defence presented the first of two new aircraft: a latest generation helicopter equipped with advanced technologies and adaptable according to the needs of different missions. Airbus H145M helicopters are multi-role aircraft equipped with encrypted communication systems and technologies to ensure operability even in night conditions. They are able to detect and identify other flying objects and have electro-optical and infrared cameras as well as a secure information transmission channel. With the latter, video images can be viewed not only at a central command post, but also on the ground in scenarios where a mobile station is required. If necessary, helicopters can transport troops and they can land quickly. A winch system allows the aircraft to deposit and lift loads.

Moreover, the two identical aircraft have been described as so flexible that they can be equipped and supplemented by other equipment. The helicopters are not armed, but if necessary, their configuration allows for such adaptations.

The costs of this capacity programme amount to approximately €39 million, of which about €24 million went towards the acquisition itself and €15 million for maintenance contracts, the provision of personnel and infrastructure.

The Directorate of Defence, which announced the news, has acquired both Airbus H145Ms for the future needs of the military. However, the aircraft may also cover the needs of the police and other ministerial departments with a view to maximising synergies in the course of operations. Helicopter support may therefore also be requested by other administrations for missions that do not fall within the military or police domain.

The second helicopter will be delivered at the end of 2019, so that both aircraft will be operational from early 2020. These will be stationed at Luxembourg Air Rescue at Luxembourg Airport and operated by its pilots until December 2023. Luxembourg Air Rescue will therefore provide personnel to operate and maintain the aircraft.

These aircraft replace the former MD 902 McDonnell Douglas helicopter (LX-PGA), the first police-specific helicopter. Acquired in 2005, the aircraft was used in police missions for 15 years. However, its replacement became unavoidable due to its age, outdated technical means and high maintenance costs. In the late 1990s, the police looked at new ways to ensure internal security. The first helicopter flights began in 2000 with leased machines, until the police acquired the LX-PGA in 2005.

2016 marked the start of the project to replace the current helicopter and, in 2018, the Directorate of Defence decided to acquire two new helicopters for the needs of the army and the police.