On the 1th of May, Bulgaria mark 100 years of the Bulgarian Naval Aviation. The beginning was in the years of the First World War, at that time Bulgaria had seaplanes of course, it was a reliable unit for the country.
The beginnings of modern Naval Aviation for Bulgaria started in 1959, when the country acquired the Mi-4M helicopter. Another qualitative change in Naval Aviation occurred in 1979, when the Navy received third-generation helicopters - Mi-14PL. The anti-submarine warfare helicopter, equipped with towed APM-60 MAD, OKA-2 sonobuoys and a retractable Type 12-M search radar, armed with a single AT-1 or APR-2 torpedo, one Skat nuclear depth bomb, eight depth charges. The helicopter crews learnd interaction with patrol vessels, directing the striking forces from the see and experimented working with minesweepers. On the 15th of May, 1983 during complex conditions a group of 4 helicopters, made a route from Varna to Sevastopol without landing over the Black Sea.
A new page in the history of the Bulgarian Naval Aviation started not so long ago, with the acquisition of three new state of the art helicopters from France. The Eurocopter AS565 Panther is the military version of the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin medium-weight multi-purpose twin-engine helicopter. The Panther is used for a wide range of military roles, including combat assault, fire support, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). The first machine flew to Bulgaria in the year 2011, a year later the whole unit was trained to the new type. From 2012 the unit is on duty to participate in search and rescue and other missions after disasters.
In 2017 several hundreds of people gatherd on the beach to watch the three Panther perform several movements together and in solo as well. The helicopters also transported paratroopers who landed on the Central Beach. Martial arts and landings from the water was also part of the anniversary celebrations done by the Navy's personel.
As of today, the three Eurocopter AS565 Panther belong to the Naval Aviation, all Mi-14s were grounded in 2010, plans existed to overhaul the helicopters to operate alongside the new Panthers. Nothing happend so far with the russian type.