Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces (Ministre des armées), on May 15, 2020 convened a ministerial investment committee devoted to the maintenance in operational condition (MCO) of the Dauphin Pedro and Panther helicopters. It adopted the new strategy for the support of these aircraft, which ensure the safety of the pilots of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and participate in the surveillance and intervention capability of French Navy ships. The Minister makes improving aircraft availability a priority of her action: this decision is in line with the transformation of aviation sustainment undertaken in 2019 under the oversight of the aviation maintenance directorate (DMAé).
The responsibility for supporting these helicopters will therefore be entrusted to the Service Industriel de l’Aéronautique (Aeronautical Industrial Service, SIAé) for a period of ten years. This strategy will give a single player the ability to manage all of the manufacturers involved in the sustainment of these helicopters. In addition, the SIAé will ensure, for the benefit of air force mechanics on the Hyères base, the delivery of the spares necessary for daily maintenance operations. This contract will allow the achievement of the availability and air activity objectives provided for the Dauphin Pedro Panther fleet by the 2019-2025 Military Planning Law (LPM), and will allow a reduced cost per flight hour.
The SA 365 F Dauphin is a variant of the Airbus Helicopters AS365 Dauphin for the French Navy. It has been used since 1991 for general duties and for backup purposes aboard an aircraft carrier. A helicopter with rescue divers is always in the air during flight operations to be able to assist the pilot in case of an accident. The variant 365F is used since 1999 with Flottille 35F called AS365F Dauphin Pedro. The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) AS365 Dauphin (Dolphin), is a medium-weight multipurpose twin-engine helicopter produced by Airbus Helicopters. It was originally developed and manufactured by French firm Aérospatiale, which was merged into the multinational Eurocopter company during the 1990s.
The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) AS565 Panther is the military version of the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin medium-weight multi-purpose twin-engine helicopter. The Panther is used for a wide range of military roles, including combat assault, fire support, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). The AS565 Panther is a twin-engine medium-sized multi-mission rotorcraft. It is capable of performing various naval and land-based missions, such as maritime security, search and rescue (SAR), casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), vertical replenishment, surveillance, special forces operations, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and Anti-surface warfare (ASuW).