According to local media reports, the Pakistan Air Force commissioned the Leonardo AW139 helicopter into service with the newly-formed No.88 Squadron on March 3. The event was marked by a ceremony and flypast at PAF Base Shahbaz (Jacobabad), the new squadron’s base.
A report by the Associated Press of Pakistan said with service introduction of the AW139, the Pakistan Air Force’s search and rescue squadron has been renamed as No.88 ‘Rams’ Combat Support Squadron.
The AW139 replaces the unit’s ageing Mil Mi-171 helicopters and will provide the Pakistan Air Force with a night and maritime SAR capability, as well as a platform to train PAF crews. The local press report stated that at the induction ceremony Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman said: “After an in-depth analysis of the search and rescue platforms available worldwide, the Pakistan Air Force selected the AW139 as the most effective solution for its requirements. The long awaited vision of the PAF to acquire a night and maritime search and rescue capability has been achieved with the AW139.”
Air Chief Marshal Aman reportedly continued: “I firmly believe this will be a stepping stone in achieving more complex capabilities [with regard to] our helicopter fleet.”