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PAF AW139 Helicopters Integrated With State Of The Art SAR, EO/IR and Ultra Lightweight FLIR Suite:

PAKISTAN AIR FORCE is the premier aerospace force of PAKISTAN responsible to defend the airspace of PAKISTAN round the clock and both day and night. PAKISTAN AIR FORCE has recently acquired the ‘Undisclosed’ numbers of Augusta Westland AW139 multipurpose helicopters from friendly country, Italy.

The Leonardo Augusta Westland AW139 is a state of the art Multipurpose helicopters that PAKISTAN AIR FORCE is using for different purposes. PAKISTAN AIR FORCE has termed the name of AW139 Helicopter has ‘Seahawk’ due to its significant and formidable role it offers.

PAF AW139 Helicopter

PAF AW139 Helicopters Integrated With State Of The Art SAR, EO/IR and Ultra Lightweight FLIR Suite and now the helicopters are more capable to conduct round the clock SAR and CSAR operations.

Reportedly, PAKISTAN AIR FORCE has integrated the Augusta Westland AW139 Helicopters with state of the art Search and Rescue (SAR) Suite that provides much needed capability to PAKISTAN AIR FORCE to conduct Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in both day and night. Previously, PAKISTAN AIR FORCE heavily relied on Mi-17 Hip Helicopter for SAR missions.

PAKISTAN AIR FORCE has upgraded the 84 Combat Support Squadron (CSS) with the newly inducted AW139 Helicopters, which was previously operated the Mi-17 multipurpose helicopters.

Wing Commander Abid Majid said, “Having a day and night maritime SAR capability allows us to support all the fighter aircraft around the clock during maritime operations.”

PAF AW139 Perfornance in All Weather Conditions
PAF AW139 Performance in All Weather Conditions

The Day and Night Search and Rescue (SAR) is a much needed capability by the PAKISTAN AIR FORCE, who often was previously using the Mi-17 and Alouette III helicopter, but both helicopters has some limitations due to the lack of sophisticated equipment when it comes to SAR missions. Now, PAF AW139 Helicopters can perform SAR Missions with any fighter jet, including PAKISTAN’s Pride JF-17 Thunder, deep into the Arabian Sea with high precision and accuracy.

The induction of ‘Undisclosed’ numbers of AW139 helicopters has significantly increases the much-needed SAR capability of PAKISTAN AIR FORCE due to the extended SAR range.

The PAKISTAN AIR FORCE AW139 Helicopters can also be used for VIP role, as the helicopter is equipped with five seats or the configuration can be changed to three seats with two stretchers.

Sophisticated Equipment of PAKISTAN AIR FORCE No 84 CSS AW139 Helicopters:

  1. Ultra Lightweight FLIR System:

PAF 84 Combat Squadron Support Helicopters are equipped with the state of the art technologies, equipment and suits, including the ultra lightweight FLIR Systems (Ultra Force Forward Looking Infra-Red) turret, which is placed right under the nose of the helicopter.

PAF AW139 EO/IR and FLIR Suite
PAF AW139 EO/IR and FLIR Suite
  1. TrakkaBeam Searchlight System:

PAF Next Generation Aw139 Helicopters are equipped with the TrakkaBeam Searchlight System from Trakka Corporation. The searchlight beam is fitted on the port side of the Helicopter.  The Helicopter is also equipped with the Breeze-Eastern that completes the SAR Suite.

TrakkaBeam Searchlight For PAF AW139 Multipurpose Helicopters
TrakkaBeam Searchlight For PAF AW139 Multipurpose Helicopters
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The TrakkaBeam Searchlight System is a powerful and high-intensity searchlight designed to use for several airborne platforms, including the Helicopters and Aircrafts. The TrakkaBeam Searchlight is a fully automatic searchlight that features the integrated filter wheel.

TrakkaBeam Searchlight For PAKISTAN AIR FORCE AW139 Multipurpose Helicopters
TrakkaBeam Searchlight For PAKISTAN AIR FORCE AW139 Multipurpose Helicopters

The TrakkaBeam Searchlight features the slews at 0-60° azimuth. The TrakkaBeam Searchlights is an ideal searchlight designed for SAR, CSAR, EMS and Covert Security Missions.

  1. EO/IR System:

The PAKISTAN AIR FORCE AW139 helicopter is also equipped with the state of the at EO/IR suite that can also be used for the ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) missions.

PAF AW139 EO/IR and FLIR Suite
PAF AW139 EO/IR and FLIR Suite

Explaining about the AW139 Helicopter’s EO/IR and FLIR Capability, Wing Commander Majid Abid said, “The mission control operator in the rear cabin will use the Ultra Force FLIR for searching land and sea surfaces. At the same time, the system’s tracker beam working in conjunction with the EO/IR system can be used for ISR [Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance] missions.”

“It’s a game changer, one of many that the Sea Hawk brings. “We are also modifying the helicopter’s system so we can data link information and imagery to the ground.” Wing Commander Abid Majid further added.

  1. Integrated Avionics System:

The AW139 helicopter is equipped with the integrated cockpit designed to operate in harsh weather conditions in both day and night.

PAF AW139 Cockpit Picture
PAF AW139 Integrated Cockpit
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The helicopter is equipped with the 4-axis Enhanced Flight Director with Search and Rescue (SAR) mode. The flight Director allows the pilot to automatically and safely hover over the rescue area, so the remaining crewmen focused on saving lives rather than controlling the helicopter all the time.

  1. Fuel Capacity:

The No 84 Combat Squadron Support AW139 Helicopters can carry up to 2,600 lbs of fuels that’s enough for endurance up to three hours consecutively.


Operational Training of PAF AW139 Helicopter:

Initially, PAKISTAN AIR FORCE has sent a group of PAF Pilots to friendly country, Italy for flying training on AW139 helicopters. After the Italian Defense Giant Leonardo came to PAKISTAN back in July 2018 and opens its regional office in PAKISTAN that provides much needed assistance to PAF from Italian Defense Giant Leonardo.

A total of PAF four pilots and a pair of Para Jumpers have trained on the AW139 that are now helping to save lives during SAR missions.

The Para Jumper (PRs) is a new role for PAKISTAN AIR FORCE, Para Jumpers have to get one year air force commando training, which are known as Special Services Wing (SSW). SSW is the Elite Commando Force of PAKISTAN  AIR FORCE specialized in Asymmetric Warfare, Unconventional Warfare, Airborne Operation, Clandestine Operations, Covert Operations in complex Hybrid Warfare environment.

Such Para Jumper commandos have to spend nine months on the diving course with PAKISTAN NAVY and they also had to spend additional four months with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).

Explaining the Operational Training of PAF AW139 Helicopters, the Captain and Instructor of PAF AW139 Helicopters, Wing Commander Abid Majid said, “We have a Full Flight Simulator (FFS) now being used by the AW-139 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) to train PAF personnel on night/day maritime SAR ops. We received Night Vision Goggles (NVG) training by the US in 2011 and we flew with Italian instructors – it was the first time we had experienced the NVGs over the sea.”

“It’s a step-change from what we were previously operating. It is true that it is more complex to employ, but its search and weather radar, as well as the other new modern avionics and equipment are what the PAF needed,” Wing Commander Majid Abid further added.


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Leonardo’s AW139 Helicopters For PAKISTAN ARMY:

It is worth mentioning that PAKISTAN AIR FORCE has conducted robust testing of the AW139 back in 2016 before the actual purchase. The testing also includes the landings and take-off on unprepared surfaces in harsh climatic conditions from height 16,000 ft to 20,000 ft in total.

Augusta Westland AW139 Helicopter in PAKISTAN
PAKISTAN ARMY Augusta Westland AW139 Helicopter in PAKISTAN

The initial trials of the AW139 Helicopters fully went well as per the high operational standards of PAKISTAN AIR FORCE. This it the reason that PAKISTAN ARMY also ordered the more quantity of Leonardo’s Augusta Westland AW139 Helicopters from Italy, which are now flying in PAKISTAN Color in PAKISTANI Air space.

Five AW139 helicopters are already used by the PAKISTAN’s Emergency Relief Cell (ERC) located at Islamabad Helipad.

PAK AW 139 Helicopter
PAK AW 139 Helicopter

PAKISTAN AIR FORCE and PAKISTAN ARMY has taken the delivery of all the ordered AW139 Helicopters. The AW139 Multipurpose helicopters are now handed over to the Advanced Helicopter Training School, 88 Combat Support Squadron (CSS), 82 Combat Squadron Support (CSS), 84 Combat Squadron Support (CSS) and 87 Combat Squadron Support (CSS).

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