In a ceremony held at the Airbus Helicopters plant in Albacete on 3rd October, the Spanish Air Force took delivery of its first H215 twin-engine heavy rotorcraft. The purchase was negotiated in July by the Spanish Ministry of Defense, through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). It is the first H215 to enter service in Spain.
The H215, formerly designated AS332 C1e/L1e, is a version of the Super Puma due to be assembled in Romania with a standardised configuration. It is aimed primarily at markets currently dominated by Russia’s Mil with its Mi-8 and Mi-17.
The H215 is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, including multi-function digital screens and an advanced 4-axis autopilot providing flight envelope protection and stability in harsh operating conditions.
The aircraft carried out final test flights at the Albacete plant on 22nd September, where it was painted and fitted with specific mission systems enhancing its Search and Rescue (SAR) and Personnel Recovery/CSAR missions. The Air Force’s H215 boasts additional fuel tanks that extend its range to 560km, an emergency buoyancy system, a high-frequency radio, a hoist, and a cockpit compatible with night vision goggles, among other equipment.
The Spanish Air Force operates several helicopters belonging to the Super Puma family, in both civil and military versions. The aircraft operate in three SAR Squadrons as well as in the 402 Air Force Squadron, which is responsible for the transport of senior government officials. The new H215 will be assigned to the Air Force’s 802 Squadron/RCC Canarias and will arrive at its base in Gando (Gran Canaria) before the end of the year.
The new helicopter will enter into service rapidly, following a short training programme for crews, who already have extensive experience of flying other versions of the Super Puma.