At last week’s Victory Parade to mark the 101st anniversary of the Estonian Air Force, the announcement was made that the R44 is to be retired, which will leave the country without any military helicopters.
The first has been donated to Lennundusmuuseum (the Estonian Aviation Museum) eight miles south of Tartu, and the other three are planned to be retired at the rate of one per year. Given a fleet of four, that suggests the last will be retired in 2023.
The four helicopters were donated to Estonia by the US Government in 2002. Two are Police specification, and carry FLIR Systems’ Ultra 8000 Thermal Imaging camera and loudspeakers. The other two are Clipper variants with floats, and it is one of these was the first to be retired.
In 2012, two of the four helicopters were upgraded for night vision training by Rebtech and Night Flight Concepts
The four R44s marked the Victory Parade with a tour of towns in Estonia – this was the planned route and timings
The Estonian Government also has three Leonardo AW139 helicopters which are used by their Police and Border Force.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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