Victoria Police announced that contracts were in place to obtain three Leonardo AW139 helicopters along with upgrading fixed wing capabilities with the addition of a Beechcraft King Air 350ER.
Following the announcement by State of Victoria Police Minister Lisa Neville in October of 2017 that Victoria Police would be recieving upgraded helicopters as part of a larger $2 billion dollar budget initiative aimed at increasing police capabilities, Victoria Police announced through a press release last week that the states Police Air Wing is set to replace its existing helicopter fleet with three Leonardo AW139 helicopters in 2020. The upgraded helicopters will replace the agencies current cadre of four Airbus AS365N3 helicopters that will be augmented by a Beechcraft King Air 350ER fixed-wing aircraft to assist in rapid deployment of officers around the state as needed and perform other transportation needs by the agency.
The return of a fixed wing asset for Victoria Police’s Air Wing will fill a gap left decades ago when the agency retired its last fixed wing asset as Victoria Police became more reliant on helicopters to assist with the states ever increasing population and the agencies ever expanding mission profile. The Victoria Police Air Wing responds long distances around the State of Victoria providing a varied mission profile that includes offshore search and rescue, surveillance, rapid response transportation and a wide variety of other tasks undertaken by the Air Wing.
The three new AW139s will be acquired from StarFlight Victoria, with the King Air being acquired from Skytraders.
“The aircraft we are procuring are world class, with some of the best technology available to law enforcement and other agencies,” Victoria Police Acting Superintendent Arneil said in a statement.
“The combination of helicopters and an aeroplane will provide us with more options for aerial support.” he continued.
In further comments related to the upcoming acquisition, Victoria Police noted that the AW139 aircraft would be flown and crewed by current pilots in the Air Wing currently flying the AS365N3 that will transition to the new aircraft as they arrive at the Air Wing base located at Essendon Airport, located on the western outskirts of the city of Melbourne.
Victoria’s Metropolitan Ambulance Service (MAS) has operated a fleet of AW139 helicopters under a long term contract with Australian Helicopters for several years, which will bring the number of AW139 helicopters operated by state agencies to seven in Victoria.
Leonardo Helicopters continues to gain market share in Australia with the AW139. The AW139 is currently operated in Australia by CHC Helicopters, Life Flight, Emergency Management Queensland, New South Wales Ambulance Service, Victoria’s Metropolitan Ambulance Service, Westpac Rescue, Toll Transport, Esso and other companies in missions that include search and rescue, air ambulance, offshore oil and gas transport and VIP transport.
To read more about Victoria Police, see our cover story on the agency from our 2016 ALEA issue click here.