Australian Navy retires the A109
The Australian Navy has retired its fleet of AgustaWestland A109 helicopters as the type makes way for the introduction of the Bell 429.
The aircraft, which are assigned to 723 Squadron based at HMAS Albatross near Nowra, flew their final missions on 9 March.
The A109s first entered navy service in June 2007. Provided and maintained by Raytheon Australia, the aircraft flew over 6,000 hours and qualified over 60 aircrew in that time.
The helicopters were part of the navy’s Retention and Motivation Initiative (RMI) that aims to provide development opportunities for junior pilots, aviation warfare officers and aircrewmen awaiting operational flying training on Seahawk and MRH90 helicopters.
As well as the RMI mission, the aircraft also provided vital support in community assistance operations, including the 2009 Victoria bushfires and 2011 Queensland flood relief.
The A109s are being replaced by three Bell 429 helicopters - also provided by Raytheon Australia. The first 429 will arrive in March 2012 and undergo testing before entering in service with 723 Squadron in May.
Source: By Tony Osborne in London- 14 March 2012 - Shephard News
Photo: Australian Navy retires the A109 (Photo by Shephard Group)