DH - Defence Helicopter

Italian Air Force’s first HH-101A takes flight

20th March 2014 - 15:47 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The first production AW101 for the Italian Air Force has made its maiden flight at the AgustaWestland facility in Yeovil, UK, on 19 March. A number of officials from the Italian Air Force and government witnessed the flight, including the Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Pasquale Preziosa and the Italian Ambassador Domenico Terracciano.

The AW101 will be designated HH-101A Caesar in Italian service, with 15 of the aircraft being acquired for Search and Rescue operations. This first and the second aircraft will be delivered in the last quarter of 2014 configured for Personnel Recovery and Special Forces missions. 

Gen Preziosa commented: ‘The HH-101A will respond to the Italian Air Force’s needs for Personnel Recovery and Special Forces Operations. It will also support SAR, MEDEVAC and Slow Mover Intercept operations which are extremely important to provide effective support to the Italian community. Thanks to its performances, versatility and reliability, the HH-101A is the best solution for the Italian Air Force’s future operational capability requirements.’

The HH-101A will be able to host a combination of up to five crew members plus twenty fully equipped troops or six crew members plus 8 troops for special operations. The helicopters will be equipped with three M134 7.62 mm pintle mounted Gatling-type machine guns installed on right and left sides and on the rear ramp, armoured cockpit seats, ballistic protection for machine gun operators as well as for critical systems and an Integrated Electronic Warfare System providing self-protection against radar, laser and infrared threats. The HH-101A will also feature an air-to-air refuelling kit for extended range operations.     

AgustaWestland has also signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the Italian Air Force to establish new joint training solutions. The LoI will see new capabilities developed to meet the future rotary-wing training requirements by leveraging synergies between the AgustaWestland Training Organization based at its Frosinone plant, and the Italian Air Force 72nd Wing. 

The training solution is to be based on the AW139 light intermediate helicopter model, by which conversion training will be ensured to crews of both the Italian Air Force’s HH-139A/VH139, used for search and rescue and government transport duties respectively, and the HH-101A which will primarily be used for personnel recovery and special forces operations.

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