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SIRENE - History 23 August 2012

 V zraku burduš, na cesti pod njim vozilo milice in policist med kontrolo prometa

The Air Support Unit is one of the oldest units of its kind in Europe, dating back to 19 May 1967, the date on which the first helicopter was put into service by the then Police. The following is a brief description of the development of police aviation in Slovenia.

1967: Establishment of the unit and the first helicopter

In 1967, the Militia (the title of the Police at that time) received its first helicopter. It was a three-seater helicopter of the Agusta Bell AB 47/J-2A type. The pilots of the Air Support Unit and the paramedics named it Burdush. It was purchased to support the police in their regular policing duties on flat terrain, and on 24 March 1968 it was already involved in mountain rescues. On the slope below Mojstrovka, an avalanche had trapped six cross-country skiers, and a helicopter had successfully transported a seriously injured person from the Koča na Gozdu hut on Vršič mountain pass to the valley as part of the rescue operation. This was the first helicopter rescue in the Slovenian mountains and is considered the beginning of the development of helicopter mountain rescue in Slovenia. The helicopter was deployed on its last mission in 1984, and since 2017 it has been part of the collection of the Slovenian Police Museum and part of the permanent exhibition in the Slovenian Mountain Museum in Mojstrana.

1972: The second helicopter, Agusta Bell AB-206 Jet Ranger

In July 1972, a new Agusta Bell AB-206 Jet Ranger helicopter joined the police helicopter fleet. The helicopter was more powerful than the previous one and the Unit's activities were expanded. In the following years, the unit acquired five more helicopters, two of which are still in use today for training police aviation personnel and for less demanding policing tasks. A helicopter camera was also installed on this type of helicopter at one time.

1978: "Medico" helicopter

In 1978, the fleet was expanded to include a twin-engine model A-109 Hirundo helicopter, which was initially intended primarily for the transport of the Slovenian Republic's political leadership, but in 1986 was converted into a modern helicopter for the provision of emergency medical assistance and the transport of incubators throughout the former Yugoslavia, organised by the Automobile Association of Yugoslavia. It represented the first "flying ambulance" in this area. It was in service until 1998, when it was sold.

1980: Agusta Bell AB-212

In 1980, an AB-212 helicopter was purchased. It is considered to be the first multi-purpose helicopter, with better performance than the other types of helicopters in the fleet of the Air Support Unit. At the time, it was also the largest helicopter of the Unit, and was used for all police, humanitarian and other tasks until 2022. It was mainly used for mountain rescue, transport of people and equipment, helicopter-borne deployment of special and riot units and other more demanding operational tasks, and also for helicopter emergency medical assistance. The helicopter was overhauled in 2006. It started its service with the registration YU-HCJ and ended its service as S5-HPB. It is on display in the Military History Park in Pivka.

1980: Hangar at Brnik

The year 1980 played another important role in the history of the development of police aviation. The Air Support Unit moved into a modern hangar at the Ljubljana Airport (today Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport). Until then, the unit had not had its own premises. The hangar was damaged during the 1991 War of Independence. During the attack on the facility, two members of the unit were inside the hangar, but fortunately escaped unhurt. The helicopters had been withdrawn to a secret location earlier that day, and some risky flights were made from there. In 1998, a new building was constructed, where the unit is still based today.

1987: Agusta Bell AB-412

The Agusta Bell AB-412 helicopter is the successor to the AB-212 helicopter and is very similar to it in appearance, performance and versatility of use. t was used primarily for transport police duties and the transport of passengers and patients, but also, if necessary, for other operational work more demanding than that which the AB-212 could perform. It differs most markedly from its older "brother" in appearance by having a four-armed main rotor. It was retired from service in 2022 and will be sold. It was overhauled and modernised once during its service life. The overhaul in 2003, after 4,500 hours of flight time, covered the power units and the structure of the helicopter and equipment, while upgrading and replacing individual helicopter systems.

2004: Agusta A-109 Power

The Agusta A-109E Power is a helicopter primarily intended for border and traffic surveillance and for searching for missing persons, but has also been used in the past for helicopter emergency medical services. Its maximum take-off weight performance makes it a Category A helicopter. It is equipped to fly in poor meteorological conditions and to fly at night using night vision goggles. The flight crew started night flying in 2004 and were trained by the German Federal Police. The helicopter can be fitted with a variety of additional equipment to perform a variety of other tasks in addition to the existing equipment.

2007: Eurocopter EC-135 P2+

Slovenia's entry into the European Union and the Schengen area has led to an intensification of work at the southern border. This is one of the reasons why in 2007 a patrol helicopter, type EC-135 P2+ with a complete set of equipment for the performance of police tasks, was purchased from the Schengen Fund. It is a light twin-engine helicopter with modern equipment, which in the past was mainly used for Schengen border control, but today, in addition to border control, it is also used for traffic control and searching for missing persons, as well as for security and criminal intelligence activities. The helicopter meets the latest aviation safety and noise standards, and the helicopter's equipment and capabilities allow for day, night, instrument and night vision goggles (NVG).

2019: Agusta Westland AW-169

After many years of efforts to modernise and standardise the helicopter fleet as much as possible, in 2020 the Slovenian Police are receiving a new and technologically advanced helicopter of the Agusta Westland AW-169 type. It represents a new generation of helicopters, meeting the latest standards in terms of aviation safety and noise, and its purchase heralded the modernisation of the Air Support Unit, as it has been 12 years since the last helicopter (EC-135) was purchased. The last multi-purpose transport helicopter of the same class as the AW-169 was purchased as far back as 1987. The AW-169 helicopter is used by the police to perform all police duties, in all possible flight conditions, day and night, for the purpose of implementing tasks including transporting combat teams of police officers, guarding the national border, controlling road traffic, guarding protected persons and transporting external cargo. With this type of helicopter, the police can carry out their tasks even more efficiently and quickly, and make an important contribution to the security of the country. The high efficiency of the helicopter has so far also been demonstrated in mountain rescue, fire-fighting, natural disasters and cooperation in dealing with other incidents.

2022 and 2023 Agusta Westland AW-169

In 2022 and 2023, two new AW-169 helicopters joined the police helicopter fleet, bringing the police transport helicopter capacity to three helicopters. With the latest helicopter purchase in 2023, the police helicopter fleet has been modernised as foreseen in the Air Support Unit Development Strategy 2019-2025. The third AW-169 helicopter was handed over for service in February 2024.