21-Apr-2023 Source: Jeremy Parkin - HeliHub.com
The Honduras Air Force will nearly triple its helicopter fleet following the confirmation this week of new orders. The Latin American country is to acquire six refurbished Bell Huey IIs and six new Airbus H145M helicopters.
Currently the Honduras Air Force fleet consists of seven Bell 412SPs from an acquisition program of ten in 1988 and additional example acquired for Presidential use in 2014. Of these seven, only three are flying with four under maintenance, with local reports suggesting delays of up to 12 months for the spare parts required.
The Airbus H145M was chosen after a tender under which Bell and Leonardo also submitted bids. The fleet will be delivered at the rate of two per year (for budgetary reasons), with the initial pair expected around December 2024 or January 2025 and the others following 12 and 24 months later. The H145s will be put to use in a number of roles, including firefighting, rescues, medical evacuations and anti-drug operations. The H145Ms can be optionally armed, an ability most likely to be used in the narcotic flights.
Separately, six Huey IIs are being purchased from the US for delivery mid 2024 following their refurbishment and upgrade from each airframe’s previous use as a UH-1H model with the US Army. These will be more utilitarian in nature and likely to be used for cargo and military transport duties, as well as firefighting with underslung buckets. The Honduran Air Force has long-term UH-1 experience, having operated a total of 21 UH-1Bs from 1976 to the 2010s, and 14 UH-1H models, the last of which was withdrawn from use in March 2022 after an accident. This includes the four UH-1Hs donated by Taiwan to Honduras in 2015.