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L.A. Sheriff's Super Puma Helicopters

The medium-sized copters will be used primarily for search-and-rescue missions.

March 26, 2013  |  by - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of American Eurocopter.
Photo courtesy of American Eurocopter.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department completed a nearly $60-million overhaul of its helicopter fleet in late 2012 that brought 18 new helicopters, including three Eurocopter Super Pumas.

We noted the approval of funds for the new airships in June of 2010, and since that time the agency went even further to develop arguably the nation's premier law enforcement airborne unit with its Air Rescue 5 unit.

The all-Eurocopter fleet includes 15 A350 Astar craft and a trio of AS332L1—the company sells the EC225 civilian version—Super Pumas to replace aging military-surplus helicopters. The department had been using three Sikorsky H-3 Sea King helicopters acquired from the Department of Defense in 1998.

The Super Pumas, which are based in Long Beach, enable the agency to engage in homeland security support, conduct SWAT insertions and extractions, assist in maritime interdiction, transport personnel after natural disasters, and rescue people out at sea. There may not be a mission the unit can't handle.

The agency operates a five-man crew on the Super Pumas that includes two pilots and three SWAT medics who are also certified mountaineers and divers. All of their equipment comes with them.

"It's quite a bit of gear, but we can launch directly from our base and put these people right on the problem through vertical insertion," Deputy Patrick McKernan told Aviation International News.

The Super Pumas give Air Rescue 5 the ability to "fly in nearly all weather conditions," Sheriff Lee Baca told a gathered crowd at the October unveiling.

The Super Pumas provide a significant power and capability increase from the H-3s. The helicopter is about 25% smaller and offers a 30% faster response time. The twin-engine, four-bladed, medium-sized utility helicopter has been produced since 1978.

Tags: Search and Rescue, Helicopters, American Eurocopter, L.A. County Sheriff, SWAT Vehicles


Comments (10)

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10

Mark @ 3/26/2013 8:04 PM

Cool helicopters! Hopefully the crews do a triple check after the incidents the same helicopter has experienced in the UK: http://on.cop-apps.net/YHjtSV

LeRoy Cox @ 4/4/2013 6:50 PM

The attached article affirms the total commitment of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to its citizens and neighboring counties. The Department in 1957 established the first helicopter in the field of law enforcement patrol with the creation of "Sky Knight" which was operated out of the Lakewood Sheriff's Sub-Station servicing six Contract Cities. The continuing advances of service still affords the Department the rank of being the Grandfather of helicopters in law enforcement.

Scott @ 4/4/2013 8:08 PM

The correct count of NEW helicopters is 12 American Eurocopter AS350B2s and three used AS332L1s. The other three AS350B2s were kept from the previous fleet. One was kept for surveillance. The other two were originally going to be sold like the rest of the old fleet, but they kept for pilot training and longline missions.

Capt David-retired LA Cou @ 4/8/2013 2:13 PM

Only thing they are lacking are double 30's..

SS @ 4/8/2013 2:45 PM

Great article, Paul!

Marc Piery @ 4/8/2013 11:18 PM

So much for supporting American industry. Just more AMERICAN tax dollars going overseas. As if the United States does not produce ANY helicopters. Makes one wonder how many pockets were lined on this deal.

Bill @ 4/24/2013 6:19 PM

California is broke. They have massive debt running into the billions of dollars they don't have a prayer in hell of ever paying back. And this is how they deal with it? $60,000,000.00 worth of Helicopters? This is financial insanity.

The biggest problem you have in California is illegal invaders, and you certainly don't need a helicopter fleet to find them. Especially if you are giving them drivers licenses. This couldn't be scripted to be any more stupid.

John Carp @ 4/24/2013 6:23 PM

Being a 24 year LEO and a certified aircraft geek, I really appreciate the article!
Thank you!
Most respectfully
john

Kahn @ 4/24/2013 6:39 PM

That's one way around the Posse Comitatus Act.

No wonder Calif. is busted.

Mike @ 4/25/2013 12:57 PM

"American Eurocopter employs more than 900 individuals at its Grand Prairie, Texas and Columbus, Mississippi facilities, and at its growing network of regional support centers around the country. American Eurocopter is the U.S. subsidiary of Eurocopter – the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world – and a business unit of EADS North America, the North American operations of the world’s second largest aerospace and defense firm, EADS.

As a market leader, American Eurocopter has consistently maintained a 50% share of helicopter sales to the U.S. law enforcement sector, supplying some 48 law enforcement agencies from coast-to-coast. It also is the predominant supplier for tour, corporate and air medical services operators in the U.S., with users selecting American Eurocopter helicopters due to their large cabins, speed and excellent reliability. "

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