In January, Deputy Chief Commander Brigadier General Wioleta Gorzkowska presided over an event to launch the Airbus H135 as a new helicopter type for the Polish Border Guard. The 135 as a platform is well known in Poland, where a fleet of 27 are operated by the air ambulane operator LPR (Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe).
This new EC135P3H helicopter – a Pratt & Whitney powered aircraft fitted with Airbus’ Helionix system – is now based at the Polish Border Guard base at Huwniki alongside a pair of PZL Kania helicopters. This base is in the extreme south east corner of Poland, close to the border with Ukraine to the east, and less than 40 miles from Slovenia to the south. The border with the Ukraine is also the eastern border of the EU, and this base is strategically placed to cover the mountainous Bieszczady region
Equipment fitted to the Airbus H135 includes a Star SAFIRE EO/IR turret from FLIR Systems, and a Trakka searchlight. The full purchase price of this helicopter is quoted as 46.5 million Polish zloty, approx US $12 million.
The operational helicopter fleet of the Polish Border Guard is now one PZL W3AM Anakonda for marine patrol and SAR on the Baltic Sea, two PZL Kania and this new Airbus H135, along with a Robinson R44 Raven II delivered in March 2019 for training. The two Kanias are based with the H135 at Huwniki, and the R44 was also present at the launch event.
HeliHub.com expects that this Airbus H135 purchase will be followed up by a few more of the type as the older helicopters are phased out.
On the fixed wing side, the Polish Border Guard has a PZL-Mielec M-28 Skytruck, a PZL-Mielec M20 Mewa (a licence-built Piper Pa34 Seneca), four PZL-Okecie 104M Wilga 2000 and two ASP S15-1 Stemme motorgliders complete with sensor equipment. The will also be adding two LET L-410 UVP E-20 in October 2020.
The Polish Border Guard – known in local language as Straż Graniczna – do not fly their fleet much, averaging around 150 hours per year on each airframe.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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