Sheriff’s Department Unveils Two New Helicopters for Firefighting, Law Enforcement Support

412EPX helicopter. Photo courtesy of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
412EPX helicopter. Photo courtesy of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department unveiled two new helicopters Monday to refresh its aging fleet and help with law enforcement, fire suppression, and other efforts across the region. 

The helicopters, a 412EPX designed to operate reliably in harsh or challenging environments, such as those that are present when fighting wildfires, and a 407GXi, equipped for speed and precision, will be used in a supportive capacity with partner agencies.

The helicopters were revealed at the department’s aviation unit, Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies, based at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. 

The 412EPX was added to the ASTREA fleet as part of a longer-term plan to phase out three Bell 205 fire helicopters, which were built in the 1960s and are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

 The 407GXi is a patrol helicopter equipped with updated infrared and heat detecting cameras, which can also be used for water drops.

“Our patrol helicopter will be used to provide critical support to deputies on the ground during emergency calls,” says an informational video. “It is also an effective tool in tracking suspects or supporting search and rescue missions.

The two helicopters cost $21 million, paid for using the department’s budget and Proposition 172 funds.