The Falcao Squadron, in Belem (PA), in September passed the 1,000 flight hour mark with the H-36 Caracal, the most modern helicopter in the Brazilian Air Force fleet. Received by the FAB in December 2011, the first aircraft was transferred to the unit that has the mission to explore all of the features of the H-36. Altogether, the Air Force will have 16 units of the model provided by the company Helibrás.
Over two and a half years of operation, the Falcao Squadron has used its first Caracals in real missions, such as fighting forest fire in Amapá, support for the Federal Police for the release of hostages in Mato Grosso, humanitarian missions in support of isolated communities and Indian tribes. The Air Unit also attended the FIDAE 2012, an exhibition of military aviation in Chile. For this, the H-36 made the long trip from Belém to Santiago, passing over the Andes.
The Falcao Squadron’s 1,000 hours also included training missions such as search and rescue at sea, navigation, and flight at low altitude, alongside the second H-36 it has now received. Able to carry up to 4.5 tons of cargo, and fitted with two winches for lifting people or loads, the Caracal H-36 has also been shown to be far superior to the old H-1H.
In addition to performing the flights in new aircraft, the Falcao Squadron also formed working groups to discuss the capabilities of the new helicopter. The upgraded version to be delivered in 2014 will include new equipment such as radar warning systems and sensors threat detection in the infrared spectrum. A group is also evaluating the feasibility of aerial refueling missions with helicopters, something now done only by the FAB fighter aircraft.