Marinefliegergeschwader 5 is probably the unit with the widest array of aircraft types to be operted within the whole Bundeswehr. The unit operted not less than eight different types of fixed wing and rotary aircraft - liaison aircraft excluded !
Search And Rescue has always been a vital role within german naval aviation since the very begining of the 20th century. Thus it is not astonishing, that only eight months after the commissioning of the first naval airgroup, a dedicated Seenotrettungsstaffel was established at Kiel-Holtenau on 1st january 1958.
First equipment of the squadron was the Hunting Percival P.66 Pembroke, the first of six aircraft arriving on 6th march 1958. The propeller aircraft was suplemented by four Bristol B.171 Sycamore rescue helicopters, which were delivered only three months later. Four Saunders-Roe Skeeter light helicopters were introduced the same year, but were retired after only one-and-a-half years of service. In this time the woefully underpowered helicopter accumulated only a mere 46 flighthours.
Due to the limited range and capacity of the Sycamore, the Navy planned to acquire yet another SAR asset, capable of performing long range patrols and with a higher capacity. The Grumman HU-16B Albatross flying boat was deemed suitable and subsequently ordered. A total of five aircraft were delivered between january and april 1959.
The squadron is unique in german service, as it was the only unit to operate aircraft and helicopters alongside ships. In october 1958 the unit received seven SAR vessels, which were to assist the airborne components during resscue missions in the open sea. The ex-Bundesgrenzschutz (borderguard) boats were retired by MFG 5 in 1975. The squadron grew constantly, as a total of 15 Do-27 and Piaggio P.149D liaison aircraft were introduced into service. This led to the promotion of the unit to group status and its redesignation into Marinedienst- und Seenotgruppe in july 1959.
Two years later, on 1st october 1961, the unit was promoted to Geschwader level, now being the Marinedienst- und Seenotgeschwader. As the navy changed their unit designations according to Luftwaffe standards on 1st october 1963, the wing received its final name of Marinefliegergeschwader 5. It was devided into two squadrons - 1./MFG 5 being the former Seenotstaffel and 2./MFG 5 the former Dienststaffel.
In addition MFG 5 was ordered to support sister wing MFG 4, which was to be established soon.
In april 1963 the first of 15 of the newly aqcuired Sikorsky H-35G helicopters arrived at Kiel-Holtenau. As the H-34G took over the Sycamore's role more and more, an additional six helicopters were drawn from surplus german army stocks in 1966. Another eight airframes were handed over from MFG 4 upon the units disbandment in 1968.
1969 saw a new restructuring of MFG 5. To simplify the unit's organization, the Albatros component was designated 1. squadron, all helicopter assets were combined in 2. squadron, while all liaison and transport aircraft were under the control of 3. squadron.
By the same time the decision was taken, to replace the ageing fleet of H-34G and Albatros SAR aircraft with the Westland Mk.41 Seaking helicopter. In addition the transport fleet - consisting of Do-27, P.149D and Pembroke aircraft - was to be replaced by the new Do-28D-2. The first of 20 aircraft ordered were put into service in mid 1972. After retirement of the mentioned aircraft, 3. squadron was disbanded.
20th march 1975 saw the landing of the first two factory new Seaking helicopters at Kiel-Holtenau - the first of a total of 22 helicopters purchased.
The final H-34G left the base in april 1975, with the Seaking officially taking over SAR duties on 1st april the same year.
In 1986 MFG 5 was given yet another vital task: pollution control. The wing received two specially equipped Do-28D-2 OU (Oil Unit). The success of these two "oilhunters" led to the decision to acquire a complentry Do-228 specially suited for the same task in 1990.
These three aircraft had to transferred to MFG 3 in 1994 as a result of major defence bugdet cuts - thus leaving MFG 5 only with a sole helicopter squadron.
Alongside MFG 3, MFG 5 is another Bundeswehr unit to actively participate in a crisis region. After the Gulf War 1991, three Seakings were stationed in Bahrain and were tasked with clearing Iraqi mines in the Persian Gulf.
Though this deployment marked a milestone in Navy history, MFG 5's days are limited. It's ageing Seakings are to be replaced by the MH90, whose sole operator will be MFG 3 at Nordholz. But till then, MFG 5 will also carry out the task of coastal defence with their combat enhanced Seaking helicopters, which are now equipped with Sea Spray Radar and Sea Skua anti-shipping missiles.
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