PICTURES: Australian navy retires A109E

Singapore
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The Royal Australian Navy has retired its three AgustaWestland A109E helicopters, pending their replacement by the same number of Bell 429s.

The three A109Es, originally delivered in 2007, will be returned to Raytheon Australia, said the navy in a statement. Under the navy's Retention and Motivation Initiative (RMI) the A109Es have flown over 6,000 hours and qualified more than 60 air crew.

"The A109 presented a fantastic opportunity for naval air crew to gain experience in an advanced twin engine aircraft prior to commencing operational flying training in either the Westland Sea King, Sikorsky Seahawk or NH Industries MRH90 helicopters," said commander Matthew Shand, commanding officer of the navy's 723 squadron.

©All Images Royal Australian Navy

The first Bell 429 will arrive this month and enter service in May.

Prior to their retirement, the three A109Es performed a formation flight above Australia's Jervis Bay.