California’s Kern County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) has announced that it will acquire two Airbus H125 helicopters as part of plans to modernize its ageing fleet.
The aircraft will be produced at Airbus Helicopters’ facility in Columbus, Mississippi, for delivery later this year, and were selected by KCSO following a thorough vetting process and several flight demonstrations throughout 2020 and 2021.
The single-engine helicopters will be equipped with a Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2D engine with dual channel FADEC, and has a cruise speed of 260 km/h. The aircraft will also have a maximum range of 630km and maximum endurance of 4h 30min with standard fuel tanks, with a maximum useful load of 976kg.
The aircraft will also feature dual hydraulics, a crash resistant fuel system, and a glass touchscreen cockpit instrument panel with Garmin G500H TXi and Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display (VEMD).
Airbus says KCSO’s fleet will be configured to also include ‘the latest search, communications and surveillance equipment’ to support its law enforcement and public safety mission.
The aircraft will be used to operate across Kern County’s challenging terrain
The aircraft will be used to conduct police operations across Kern County, which has a population of approximately 900,000 people, including the city of Bakersfield.
The aircraft will be used to navigate the county’s 21,140 km2 of territory, which includes diverse terrain including mountains, deserts and valleys, with elevations ranging between around 90m and 2,440m.
“We operate in a challenging environment with hot summers over 38°C and cold winters with temperatures below freezing. And as we tested and compared the H125 with other platforms, it quickly became evident that the H125 was the best helicopter overall for all of our missions and provided the best value for the County of Kern,” said KCSO Air Support Lieutenant Joel Swanson.
The H125 is a popular choice for law enforcement operations, with Airbus stating that ‘the H125 account for nearly half of all intermediate single-engine helicopters delivered for that mission in North American over the last decade’.
California’s Riverside Police Department also placed an order for two Airbus H125 helicopters in December 2021, for delivery in the first half of 2023.