The versatility of Airbus’ twin-engine Panther AS565 MBe, derived from the civil Dauphin family, has been proven in operational duties that include front-line operations with multi-national forces and air-to-surface combat.
With its compact airframe, the AS565 MBe is used on ships and from land bases, capable of carrying a variety of weapons. In addition to its own intercept and attack capabilities, this helicopter serves as a “force multiplier” by providing over-the-horizon surface awareness and targeting to surface ships.
Benefitting from an endurance of more than four hours at loiter speed, the AS565 MBe is an affordable alternative to other light/medium helicopters that are limited in their ability to perform its diverse range of naval missions. The rotorcraft utilises Airbus’ composite Starflex rotor heads, blades and airframe for excellent performance and corrosion resistance, along with the signature Fenestron® tail rotor that provides a high level of manoeuvrability and safety – especially in confined shipborne operations.
The Panther is in service today with several navies including those of France, Mexico, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It is equipped with four lightweight missiles, tactical radar and EWS for strike missions in the anti-surface warfare role, and with two torpedoes for anti-submarine applications. When used for naval assault, the Panther serves as a capable tactical transport helicopter while transporting a combat group, usually escorted by a second Panther armed with a 20-mm gun or 12.7 mm machine gun.
Capable of operating in all weather conditions, the AS565 MBe features modern cockpit avionics that include Airbus’ automatic flight control system (AFCS) and flight management system. The helicopter is qualified to operate from more than 100 classes of NATO ships, and complies with NATO standardisation agreements (STANAGs).