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3 helicopters to join Air Force rescue wing next month: MND

The China Post--A total of three EC-225 Super Puma helicopters will be officially joining an Air Force rescue team during a commissioning ceremony to be held next month at a military air base in Taipei, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday.

The commissioning ceremony to be held in Taipei Songshan Air Base in mid-July is scheduled to be presided over by President Ma Ying-jeou, military sources told the Central News Agency yesterday.

After the ceremony, the three newly acquired aircraft will be officially joining the Air Force Seagull Rescue Squadron and listed under the 455th Tactical Fighter Wing (455聯隊) at the southern Chiayi Air Base, the military sources said.

The MND previously bought the trio helicopters from Airbus sister company Eurocopter at a total price of NT$3.6 billon. They were delivered to the Air Force last December.

The twin-engine aircraft can carry up to 24 passengers along with two crewmembers and a cabin attendant.

The 19.5-meter long helicopter has a maximum takeoff weight of 11,000 kilograms with a top speed of 275.5 km per hour, according to the MND.

The newly acquired aircraft that feature automatic flight control systems are more advanced models of search-and-rescue helicopters in comparison with the older S-70s.

The squadron currently operates 17 S-70 helicopters, most of which are more than 20 years old.

According to the Air Force, pilots of these older S-70 models have to focus more on flying the helicopters since they are not equipped with autopilot systems during rescue operations.

But the new Super Pumas, featuring an assortment of aircraft-navigation and weather-reporting technologies, will be able to assist pilots in the air, giving them more time to pay attention to the rescue missions at hand.

The aerodynamic and efficient five-blade rotors also give the helicopters more power, increased payload, longer range and faster cruising speeds, as well as reducing vibration levels, which will all contribute to a safer and more successful rescue mission.

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