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US police departments add H125s to fight crime
Four US police departments are to take delivery of H125s soon. Kern County and Nashville are first time Airbus customers, while Baltimore is replacing an ageing fleet of EC120s and Riverside PD is adding to existing units.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office in California will acquire two new Airbus H125s as part of a plan to modernise its ageing fleet.

First-time Airbus customer California-based Kern County has selected the H125 platform after a thorough vetting process and several flight demonstrations throughout 2020 and 2021. Its two new helicopters will protect and serve the county's population of roughly 900,000, which includes the city of Bakersfield, the country music capital of the west coast.

“We operate in a challenging environment with hot summers over 100 degrees 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,” says sheriff's office air support lieutenant Joel Swanson. “We've operated an air unit for 50 years, and we are the only law enforcement airborne support in a county the size of small states. We cannot wait for these aircraft to be delivered and be put to use to support our deputies and serve the citizens of our community.”

Kern County spans roughly 8,100 sqm with a diverse terrain that includes valleys, mountains and desert, and elevations of 300 ft to 8,000 ft. Its temperatures in summer can exceed 105 degrees, requiring a helicopter than can deftly navigate hot and high conditions. In addition, the sheriff's department sought a platform with impressive endurance, payload capability and the most advanced safety features on the market.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Kern County sheriff's office to the Airbus family,” says Airbus Helicopters airborne law enforcement segment manager Ron Kelley. “The H125 has become a trusted tool for law enforcement agencies across the US, and we are proud to support those missions.”

Another new customer is the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, taking delivery of two new Airbus H125s later this year.

Nashville, Tennessee reaches 526 sqm and includes both high-density urban locations and rural areas. Each year, the department's aviation unit responds to more than 2,000 calls, including searches for lost children, fleeing felons, drug eradication, robberies and vehicle pursuits.

“We need a versatile, powerful and proven aircraft to help us protect and serve the Nashville community,” says Metro Nashville PD Lt Tommy Durbin. “After a thorough review of aircraft, it became clear the H125 is the right helicopter for the mission.”

The Baltimore Police Department in Maryland will upgrade its existing EC120 fleet to the H125 platform following a cooperative purchase agreement signed with the City of Baltimore to buy three new Airbus H125 helicopters late last year. Purchased through Davenport Aviation's GSA contract, these helicopters will be of service to the city and department to enhance their public safety efforts.

“We're incredibly proud to partner with GSA and Airbus Helicopters to equip the Baltimore Police Department with these state-of-the-art aircraft, and this order marks the 35th helicopter procured through Davenport's GSA contract,” says Davenport state and local programme manager Kevin Warfiel. “We are confident the H125 is the best platform to support law enforcement's mission in providing for public safety, now and into the future.”

The Baltimore fleet will be configured with the latest search, communications and surveillance equipment. Deliveries are due to begin in November 2022.

The Riverside Police Department in California will gain two new Airbus H125 helicopters following an order placed December last year.

“The Riverside Police Aviation Unit is excited to expand its mission capabilities and offer our community additional services by entering into a larger helicopter platform,” says lieutenant Denny Corbett. “Additional services will include increased flight times for patrol, firefighting capabilities, and officer and citizen rescue capabilities, in addition to other mission essential services. The new H125s are a welcome addition to the current ageing helicopter fleet.”

The city of Riverside has a population of over 350,000 and an area covering over 100 sqm. The Riverside Police Department Aviation Unit is comprised of six pilots, two tactical flight officers and two mechanics. The unit maintains a seven day a week flight schedule, providing air support for the Cities of Riverside and Corona, assisting both city fire departments, as well as for federal agencies. Delivery of the new helicopters is anticipated in the first half of 2023.

“Law enforcement agencies continue to turn to the H125 thanks to its versatility, safety, high performance and for the reliability of a helicopter that will be ready to help them serve and protect their local communities,” adds Kelley.

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