BANGKOK, -- ‘This was the first time the H225M joined an official exercise after all four of them were delivered into RTAF service last August. Since then, pilots and aircrews have been training continuously,’ an air force training officer told Shephard.
CSAR unit 203 Squadron, Wing 2, conducted the demonstration alongside UH-1Hs at the RTAF weapons range in Chaibadal, Lopburi Province. The Hueys performed a gunship role, escorting H225Ms into a ‘combat zone’ to rescue a downed pilot.
‘The EC725 is the best and the most advanced SAR/CSAR helicopter in the air force. Apart from its major SAR/CSAR roles, it’s also capable of other roles such as troop transportation, medical evacuation and other missions required by the RTAF,’ the spokesman added.
The next major outing for the H225M is a national military and civilian exercise to train in maritime SAR operations, and which will include the Royal Thai Navy, in February.
The H225M, which is larger than most medium transport helicopters, has a wide cabin suitable for SAR/CSAR missions. It can carry 28 troops or 11 stretchers.
A second Thai order for two additional H225Ms was lodged in 2014, and these units will be delivered to the RTAF this year.
The air force plans to buy 16 SAR helicopters to replace 17 ageing UH-1Hs that are 40 years old on average. All new helicopters will serve in 203 Squadron, Wing 2, which is based in Lopburi.
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) received a batch of four Airbus Helicopters H225M (EC725) Super Cougar helicopters last year, the type conducted its first combat search and rescue (CSAR) demonstration on 22 December.