ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) achieved a significant milestone, when its No 88 Search & Rescue squadron was re-equipped with AW-139 (Augusta Westland) helicopters on Saturday.
With the induction of this state-of-the-art helicopter on its inventory, this Search & Rescue squadron has been renamed as No 88 Combat Support Squadron and Advanced Helicopter Training School, said a press release issued here by media affairs directorate of PAF. To mark this significant event in the glowing history of PAF, a ceremony was held at PAF Base, Shahbaz (Jacobabad). Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force was the chief guest on the occasion.
During the ceremony, Air Chief reviewed a smartly turned-out guard of honour by the personnel of the Base. A three-ship formation, comprising 01 MI 171 and 02 AW 139 Augusta, helicopters presented the fly past over the venue.
Speaking on the occasion, the Air Chief said, “PAF, after an in-depth analysis of the Search & Rescue platforms available worldwide, selected AW-139 as the most effective solution for our requirements. The state-of-the-art machine that we have inducted is a manifestation of stern commitment of Pakistan Air Force to modernization and capability enhancement. “I firmly believe that this will become a stepping stone in achieving more complex capabilities as regard to the Helo fleet.
The AW-139 promises a feature of enhancing PAF capability due to its versatile roles. The vision of taking Helo fleet of PAF into 21st century could not have been achieved any other way,” he added. He said, “Today, Alhamdulillah; the long awaited vision of PAF to acquire night and maritime Search & Rescue capability has been achieved with the AW-139 operationalisation”. The induction of AW-139 helicopters would considerably enhance the operational capabilities of this squadron which was flying vintage MI 171 helicopters earlier.
Being a pioneer squadron of AW-139 helicopters in PAF, it would also serve as a conversion unit for the young pilots to train them on this system. High ranking military officials along with civil dignitaries also attended the ceremony.