All systems go for Met choppers

London’s police have received the latest airborne weaponry to continue their fight against the capital’s criminals.

Watched by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, three new Eurocopter EC145 helicopters were officially introduced into service on 4 July at the Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit base in Essex.

Powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 engines, the EC145 can fly for up to 3.5 hours while carrying two pilots and up to nine passengers.

The main role of the police’s new EC145 is surveillance, but the adaptability of its cabin, along with its payload/range performance and role-adaptable mission systems, means it will be capable of multiple roles.

The aircraft’s advanced police communication suite, Wescam MX-15 electro-optic sensor, SkyQuest touch screen video management system and Gigawave digital video link enable it to operate as a command-and-control platform.

Even when equipped for its observation role, the aircraft can carry a further three officers or two police dog cages. The rear observer’s workstation can be removed in 15 minutes, providing space for up to six extra officers in the main cabin.

In its utility configuration, the forward police observer (in the co-pilot’s seat) has control of the entire mission sensor suite and the rear cabin team has full access to all tactical radios and a fold-down screen to view infra-red or TV imagery.

The EC145 can be equipped to act as a command-and-control platform