They made their last operational flight: the unit will be dissolved in September

Farewell to the veteran Hughes 500 Cayuses of the 6th Squadron of the Spanish Navy

The Spanish Navy has culminated more than half a century of operations with the already veteran Hughes 500 Cayuse of the 6th Squadron.

The Spanish Navy announces its 12th Squadron and the goodbye of the AB-212 and the Cayuse
The Air Arm of the Spanish Navy in old photographs of the US National Archives

In February you could already read here the announcement of the withdrawal of the Hughes 500 from the Navy and the foreseeable dissolution of the 6th Squadron. The helicopters will be replaced by the new EC-135s of the 12th Squadron. The new helicopters will be delivered successively to the Navy between October 2023 and October 2025.

A Hughes 500 of the Spanish Navy with its old decoration in dark blue (Photo: Armada Española).

As reported today by Defense magazine, this Tuesday, June 13, two Navy Hughes 500s, 607 and 615, "have carried out the last operational flight". His farewell will take place on June 22. Finally, and according to the same outlet, on September 30 the 6th Squadron will be dissolved.

A Hughes 369HM Cayuse of the 6th Squadron, Z.13-5/006-5, in a photo taken on January 5, 1977 at the Rota Naval Base (Photo: US National Archives).

The Hughes 369 made its maiden flight on February 27, 1963. Its military designation was OH-6 Cayuse, in honor of an Amerindian tribe in the northwestern United States. The Hughes 500 was the civil version of this model. It has capacity for four people (including the two crew members) and dimensions of 9.2 meters long and 2.4 meters high. Its empty weight is only 557 kg. It can reach a speed of 240 km/h, with a range of 610 km. This helicopter is known for its versatility and for being an economical and robust aircraft.

Three Hughes 500 of the Spanish Navy in December 2019 (Photo: Luis Díaz-Bedia Astor / Armada Española).

The United States continues to operate this type of helicopter in its MH-6 Little Bird variant, which serves in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the famous "Night Stalkers". Among other missions, were the helicopters that transported the members of the Delta Force on October 3 during the Battle of Mogadishu, events reflected in the famous movie "Black Hawk shot down" (2001).

Two Hughes 500 at the Marin Naval Military School in September 2010 (Photo: Elentir).

The Spanish Navy received its first Hughes 500 in 1972, making a total of 14 units. The oldest still in service with the 6th Squadron arrived in Spain in January 1973, having already served 50 years in service. The main mission of these helicopters is teaching. They are based in Rota (Cádiz) and are also often seen at the Marín Naval Military School (Pontevedra).

A Hughes 500 Sixth Squadron, the HS.13-10 with number 01-610. This helicopter arrived in Spain in March 1973 (Photo: Armada Española).

During this half century, the Hughes 500 of the Spanish Navy have accumulated more than 80,000 flight hours, not only in training missions, but also in transport and surveillance. Some of us are going to miss I really miss these useful little helicopters, who have finally earned a well-deserved rest. Many thanks to your crews and the personnel of the 6th Squadron for the work you have done with them for half a century. Bravo Zulu!


Main photo: Luis Díaz-Bedia Astor / Armada Española.

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