The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence has inducted three next generation AS365 N3+ Dauphin helicopters into its air force.

The Lithuanian Air Force will deploy the aircraft for nationwide search-and-rescue missions (SAR).

LAF Commander colonel Audronis Navickas said: "The acquisition of the AS365 N3+ contributes to the modernisation of our fleet.

"We have already flown the aircraft for more than 200 hours in pilot training operations including specific SAR missions and we are sure that the up-to-date capabilities of this helicopter will allow us to perform all the different types of search-and-rescue missions that we must be able to execute."

Airbus delivered the three AS365 N3+ aircraft last year as part of a contract signed in 2013.

Airbus Helicopters Central Europe vice-president head Mickael Peru said: "These AS365 N3+ helicopters have been delivered with a three-year full warranty and a commitment to an 80% availability rate.

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"The spare parts have been delivered and Airbus Helicopters’ technical assistance is in place to ensure the aircraft’s smooth entry into service."

"The spare parts have been delivered and Airbus Helicopters’ technical assistance is in place to ensure the aircraft’s smooth entry into service."

Besides SAR missions, the Dauphins are also expected to be available for drought and floods effects observation, crop conditions and plant disease tracking, as well as for monitoring of marine pollution and other environmental dangers.

Powered by two powerful Arriel 2C turboshaft engines, the AS365 N3 is Eurocopter’s latest member in the Dauphin helicopter line, featuring forward looking infrared (FLIR), radar, search lights, hailer, hoist, and stretchers.

The aircraft also features a cockpit and a four-axis autopilot to enable SAR operations in high altitudes and extreme climatic conditions.

The 4.5t class helicopter is widely used by military, parapublic and civilian operators worldwide, including the French and Bulgarian navies and the Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA).

Image: The three AS365 N3+ were delivered to the air force in 2015. Photo: © Airbus Helicopters 2015.