The Mexican Navy just received the last two of an order of ten AS565 MBe Panther helicopters. Ordered in 2014, the first four helicopters were delivered in 2016 and the remaining six in the course of 2017.
“The arrival of the MBe Panther has enhanced the Navy Aviation’s operational capabilities,” explained Admiral Jose Maria Garcia Macedo, the Mexican Navy’s General Director of Naval Aviation. “It is a modern, multi-mission helicopter that we can use in both maritime and land environments for a wide range of missions, including maritime SAR, disaster relief, external load operations and even air ambulance.”
The ten units are stationed at the three naval bases in the Mexican states of Veracruz, Sonora and Michoacan, where they perform an average of 300 flight hours for reconnaissance, patrol missions and training flights. This is facilitated by the two Turbomeca Arriel 2N turboshaft engines, which are reliable in high and hot conditions, and a hydraulically-activated harpoon with deck-lock securing, which enables the AS565 MBe to land and take off from ship decks regardless of the wind direction. The advanced avionics and systems of these helicopters include multifunction and tactical displays for the crew as well as a Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC) and Vehicle and Engines Management Display (VEMD) to improve safety and reduce pilot workload.
For law enforcement and anti-smuggling missions carried out by the Mexican Navy, the helicopter also has a multi-hour endurance at loiter speeds, and can be configured for snipers and rapid boarding parties with weapons such as cabin-mounted machine guns.