26 September 2023

Police in the air as Wing Unit takes off

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Victoria Police have announced that their multi-million-dollar Air Wing upgrade has been completed following the delivery of three new helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft.

The Wing’s three Leonardo AW-139 helicopters are equipped with advanced infrared camera and mapping systems as well as high-tech object detection software which will allow them to assist with marine and land-based searches.

Each helicopter can carry a crew of up to 15, fly at more than 250 kilometres an hour and cover a distance of more than 1,000 kilometres.

Along with the helicopters, the fixed-wing Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER has the same facilities with the added advantage of being able to remain airborne for more than 10 hours without refueling.

It will be the first plane to be used by Victoria Police in more than 20 years.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Lisa Neville, enjoyed a tour of the unit’s completed expansion, taking particular interest in its Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) – the Drones Unit – which commenced operation in October 2019.

“These new aircraft are equipped with the latest technology and will provide crucial intelligence that will help our police better respond to unfolding situations,” Ms Neville said.

“We’re giving our police the resources they need to keep themselves and the community safe, on the ground and in the skies,” she said.

According to the Police, the completed fleet will allow them to move across the State faster and respond to incidents more efficiently, with more police able to be in the sky at the same time.

They said the users of the aircraft would include Special Operations Group members and the Critical Incident Response Team, who would be able to get to regional destinations a lot quicker.

“The Major Collision Investigation Unit will also be able to reach road crash victims faster in the new aircraft,” it said.

The Victoria Police Air Wing Unit deals with around 5,000 requests every year, including regular traffic surveillance, CBD aerial patrols, search and rescue, as well as assisting ground-level police in targeting and catching suspects.

The upgrade of the Air Wing fleet cost around $63 million.

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