The Armed Forces of Montenegro have recently held an event to mark the arrival of three Bell 412 helicopters into their fleet, following on a contract signed on 30th January 2018. After evaluating both the Airbus H145M and the Leonardo AW139, Montenegro reportedly picked the Bell proposal to ensure they stayed within their budget of 30 million euros. The American manufacturer achieved this figure by supplying two new 412EPIs from the production line and a 16-year-old 412EP. The latter was previously flown by the New York Police Department and taken in part-exchange by Bell around the time they completed delivery of four 429s.
At the ceremony, Prime Minister Duško Marković said that the 412s will be used for SAR and medevac work, considerably improving the national capacity for emergency response – both for the country’s population and the increasing number of tourists who stay in Montenegro. Additional transport and reconnaissance roles are expected.
Chief of the General Staff, Brigadier General Dragutin Dakić added that this was the most important equipment acquisition by the of the Armed Forces of Montenegro since the restoration of independence in 2006. “The procurement project of these helicopters is extremely important, and despite our long-standing vision, only now have all the conditions needed come together to implement it. Aware of the need of our armed forces and the state, we have chosen the type and model of the helicopter that will best answer the security requirements in the entire territory of the country. These helicopters will enhance the mobility of units, reconnaissance capabilities and the overall transport capacity of the Armed Forces of Montenegro. In addition, it will allow us to further develop the capabilities for various types of evacuation, search and rescue missions, and reacting in extraordinary situations“.
The pre-owned 412 arrived in country on 13th April and has allowed for a period of training in the various roles the three helicopters will be taking. The new pair arrived on 10th September from Bell’s Czech Republic base in Prague, after a 44 minute flight flown by Commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Montenegro, Lieutenant Colonel Nenad Pavlović, and Major Darko Pavlović. Both aircraft were still carrying their FAA “N” registrations at the launch ceremony, but with their new Montenegrin serials on the tail.
The aircraft are
– Bell 412EP (msn 36307) pre-owned, 2002 build
– Bell 412EPI (msn 37032) factory new
– Bell 412EPI (msn 37033) factory new
The country’s military air fleet are all based at Golubovci Air Base, a few miles south of the capital Podgorica. Aside from these new acquisitions, there are four older Gazelle helicopters from the Soko factory near Mostar in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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