The 12 AS550 C2 Fennec light helicopters operated by the
Danish Air Force recently reached the milestone of 50,000 flight
hours—an event celebrated on November 12, 2008, at Karup air base
in Denmark. The aircraft first entered service in June 1990, and passed
the milestone of 25,000 flight hours back in September 1999.
The aircraft have been flown by the
724th Squadron during their 18
years of service, which can best be
summed up in two words: Flexibility and
reliability. The AS550 C2 Fennecs have
performed their missions to perfection,
including numerous operations in foreign combat zones.
In fact, it is estimated that 80 to 90% of the 50,000 flight hours
have been performed under operational conditions–a total that
includes training flights with the same mission profiles as real-life
operations. Training activities account for approximately 40% of
the Fennecs’ workload, and 30% of the flights have been carried
out using night vision goggles and at heights below 150 feet.
The Danish Fennecs were initially intended as anti-tank and
ground attack helicopters, but they soon showed their multipurpose
capability by performing many other types of missions
during external operations. In all, the Fennecs have notched
up almost 2,000 flight hours in foreign theaters of operations,
including more than 300 hours in Macedonia in 2003, more than
800 hours in Iraq in 2005 and some 670 hours in Afghanistan in
2008. These missions included light transportation, ground force
protection, patrols, as well as in-flight command and observation
duties. The aircraft flew in temperatures of +50°C in Afghanistan
and at altitudes of over 3,000 feet above sea level. At the other
end of the spectrum, the aircraft also performed missions in
Norway in 2005 and 2007 at temperatures of -30°C.
The aircraft availability has never dipped below 97% for all of
these operations, as most failures have been minor ones that
could quickly be resolved on site.
The Fennecs are now being called on to perform surveillance
missions, in particular by the Danish police as part of the fight