Air Operations

Air Operations

The Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta performs a number of operations including;
  • Maritime Surveillance,
  • Border Control Missions,
  • Search and Rescue on land and at sea, 
  • Maritime Law Enforcement and Interdiction,
  • MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation),
  • CASEVAC (Casualty Evacuation),
  • VIP & military conveyances,
  • Reconnaissance, including Aerial photography & filming,
  • Security escort overwatch,
  • Transportation and quick deployment of troops,
  • Other military activities including limited fire support.

Search and Rescue Operations

The AFM has been 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 always provided a contribution towards national SAR operations.

Today, the AFM conducts SAR Operations in the Malta Search and Rescuer Region (SRR) 
primarily using AFM resources and assets to aid persons who find themselves in distress on land and especially at sea and, where possible, to protect property and the environment.

 The AFM's mission with regards to SAR includes:

                To maintain 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. To ensure command and control over such a large area, RCC Malta is equipped with an integrated communications system coupled to a maritime surveillance web.

Rescue Assets

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 airdrop a life raft anywhere in the Malta SRR.  The AFM's fleet of Alouette III and AW139 helicopters provide for rescue missions on land and out at sea. Up till mid-2016, the AFM’s aerial assets were supported by two Italian Air Force AB212s which were forward deployed to the military zone of the Malta International Airport and operated by a mixed Italo-Maltese aircrew. Since the MIATM (Missione Italiana Assistenza Tecnica Militare) has concluded, these aircraft and their crews have returned to their national base of operations in Italy.

Maritime surface assets are also an integral part of the SAR system and are indispensable 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.​

 Contact Name 
Headquarters AFM
Luqa Barracks
Luqa VLT2000

(+356) 2249 4000 /
(+356) 2249 4016