Airbus Helicopters delivers AS365N3 Dauphin to Bulgarian Navy

The Bulgarian Navy received its second Airbus Helicopter AS365N3 + Dauphin II (tail number 905) naval helicopter on December 6, 2019, at the Chaika airfield in Varna. This helicopter was procured as a replacement of the AS565MB Panther that crashed in 2017.

Airbus Helicopters delivers AS365N3 Dauphin to Bulgarian Navy Bulgarian Navy AS365N3+ Dauphin Helicopter (Picture source: Bulgarian Navy)

The Bulgarian Navy accepted into service one Airbus Helicopters AS365N3+ Dauphin multipurpose rotorcraft on 6 December. A ceremony to welcome the new arrival took place at the Chayka naval helicopter base on the Black Sea coast.

In October 2011, the first of three Panthers (serial 901) was handed over to the Bulgarian Navy at naval helicopter base Chayka (near Varna). The other two helicopters (902 and 903) followed in October and November 2011. The Panthers replaced the ageing Mil Mi-14s. Procured second-hand, the Dauphin (serial number 905) will replace an Airbus Helicopters AS565MB Panther that crashed into the Black Sea on 9 June 2017. Prior to its delivery to the Bulgarian Navy, the Dauphin was overhauled by Airbus Helicopters Romania in Brasov.

On Wednesday 20 November 2019, an AS365N3 Dauphin, with taped-on temporary registration YR-AHX, arrived at Chayka. The future serial 905, as well as the Navy titles and roundels, were taped off. On Friday 6 December 2019, the Dauphin was officially handed over to the Navy. It is reported that this specific helicopter was Norwegian privately owned and overhauled upon delivery to the Bulgarian Navy.

The AS365 N3+ is fitted with Airbus’ unique 4-axis autopilot, which eases crew workload and helps simplify the most demanding search and rescue (SAR) missions and a class 1 rescue hoist. Able to fly at very high speeds with stability in hover, large power reserves and excellent one engine inoperative (OEI) performance, the AS365 N3+ is a safe aircraft for performing SAR work in poor weather conditions.

For the record, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense signed a 358 million euros contract with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) in January 2015 for the purchase of 12 AS532AL Cougar transport helicopters for the Bulgarian Air Force, and six AS565 Panther naval helicopters for the Bulgarian Navy.