Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first AS565 MBe Panther helicopter to the Mexican Navy Secretaría de Marina (SEMAR).

In 2014, the Mexican Navy placed a purchase order for ten helicopters, and is due to receive three other units before the end of this year and the remaining six by 2018.

Naval Aviation in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Pacific coast will operate the helicopters.

"The new helicopters will enhance Naval Aviation’s operational and response capability."

Vice-admiral Jose Maria García Macedo said: “The Mexican Navy’s first Panther helicopters came into service ten years ago.

“Since then they have been our most loyal ally when it comes to saving lives, and it gives us great pleasure to expand our fleet with the more modern version of the same aircraft.

“Thanks to the state-of-the-art technology on-board, the new helicopters will enhance Naval Aviation’s operational and response capability, enabling us to carry out maritime safety missions both day and night, in any weather and in heavy seas.”

Airbus Helicopters Latin America vice-president Mesrob Karalekian stated that under the delivery contract, the company will also train pilots and technicians to manage and operate the fleet of helicopters.

The AS565 MBe helicopters are driven by two Safran Arriel 2N engines, which enables them to operate in hot conditions, at a speed of 278kmph and a range of 780km.

They are equipped with a new main gearbox, a new-generation tail rotor, and a 4-axis autopilot that reduces crew workload and enables improved performance in demanding search-and-rescue (SAR) missions.

The Mexican Navy will deploy the helicopters to conduct a range of missions such as SAR, disaster relief transportation and evacuation, drug enforcement and coastal protection.

Image: Mexican Navy receives first AS565 MBe Panther helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Eric Raz / Airbus Helicopters.