This AS365N3 + Dauphin II helicopter was acquired by Airbus Helicopters for Bulgaria on the commercial market in November 2018 and converted into a naval version at the Airbus Helicopters plant in Brasov (Romania).
For the record, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense signed a contract worth 358 million euros with the European consortium EADS (now Airbus) in January 2015 for the purchase of 12 AS532AL Cougar transport helicopters for the Bulgarian Air Force, and six AS565 Panther naval helicopters for the Bulgarian Navy.
The implementation of the contract was delayed due to financial problems in Bulgaria, and in June 2010, the Bulgarian side reduced the order of AS565 Panther helicopters from six to three units. All three AS565 Panther helicopters of new construction (tail numbers “901”, “902” and “903”) were received by Bulgaria in October-November 2011. They replaced ageing Soviet-made helicopters of the Mi-14 series. However, on June 9, 2017, the Panther helicopter with tail number “902” crashed in the Black Sea, which forced the Bulgarians to acquire a replacement for it.
“The acquisition of new helicopters is essential for enhancing the capabilities of our fleet and for enhancing the capabilities of our aviation.”
Bulgarian Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov