The Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta performs a number of operations including;
•search and rescue at sea,
•VIP & military conveyances,
•arial photography & filming support,
•security escort tasks,
•other military tasks including limited fire support.
SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS
The AFM was responsible for SAR operations since 1978, when, the Royal Air Force 1151 Marine Craft Unit was disbanded in view of the departure of the British Forces from Malta.
Since the inception of the Armed Forces of Malta, particularly, with the establishment of the Maritime Troop and the Helicopter Flight way back in 1971 and 1972 respectively, the AFM provided a contribution towards national SAR operations.
Today, the AFM conducts SAR Operations in the Malta SAR Region (SRR) primarily using AFM resources to aid persons who find themselves in distress at sea and, where possible, to protect property and the environment. The AFM's Mission with regards to SAR includes:
•To mantain a capability to respond to cases on a 24/7 basis;
•To respond to cases on a 24/7 basis;
•To act as a first rescue co-ordination centre when necessary;
•To support other nations in SAR operations when requested;
The AFM's responsibility for SAR is outlined within the national and international legal framework.
Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Malta
RCC Malta, which is co-located with the AFM Operations Centre in Luqa Barracks is responsible for coordinating all search and rescue activities within the Malta Search and Rescue Region (SRR), an area comprising 250,000 Sq. km of water. In order to ensure command & control over such a large area, RCC Malta is equipped with an integrated communications system coupled to a maritime surveillance web.
The AFM maintains a high level of readiness to respond to SAR distress calls. All AFM air and surface assets are available to be employed on SAR missions.
The Air Wing's Beechcraft King Air B200 maritime patrol aircraft is specially modified to air drop a life raft anywhere in the Malta SRR. The AFM's fleet of Alouette III and AW 139 helicopters provide for rescue missions out at sea. They are supported by two Italian Air Force AB212s which are forward deployed to the military zone of the Malta International Airport and operated by combined mixed Italo-Maltese crews.
Maritime surface assets are also an integral part of the SAR system and are indispensible when rescues involve large numbers of people in distress at sea. The Diciotti Class Offshore Patrol Vessel P61 and the Protector Class Patrol Vessels, P51 and P52 are tasked extensively for this purpose. The inshore patrol boats built by Austal are also available to assist in search and rescue operations at sea. Two fast launches, the Vittoria Class Melita I & II, are also primarily dedicated to national SAR missions.