Aircraft mentioned in this article :
Aeronautica Militare Italiana, December 03, 2020 - On November 30, the first HH-139B helicopter landed in Cervia, intended to complete and strengthen the helicopter fleet of the 15th Stormo (Air Wing) and the SAR Centers / Groups under it.
The helicopter was delivered on November 27 by Leonardo Vergiate following the successful conclusion of the testing and acceptance procedures conducted by the Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness Department (DAAA), together with the Territorial Technical Office of Milan (UTT) and the support of the Experimental Flight Department of the Air Force.
The delivery of the helicopters will end in 2021 and will see the induction of 17 "B" version aircraft to the air groups of Cervia and to the SAR (Search and Rescue) Centers located throughout the country:
- 80° Centro SAR, Decimomannu
- 82° Centro SAR, Trapani
- 84° Centro SAR, Gioia del Colle
- 85° Centro SAR, Pratica di Mare
The new version HH-139B introduced some technical features that allow to improve the operational capacity and therefore to increase the flexibility of use to respond to emergencies and security needs.
In particular, the new version has been equipped with a double winch that increases the reliability of the system and safety during recovery operations and a "mission console" that allows better management of the on-board equipment for the purpose of searching for any missing persons.
In addition, the maximum take-off weight has been increased, from 6800 to 7000kg, which allows a greater load capacity.
Finally it has been updated with the latest generation avionics and on-board sensors, such as the AIS (Automatic Identification System) which allows a better interaction of vessels and the OPLS (Obstacle Proximity LIDAR System) which favors identification and separation with orographic obstacles.
The 15th Air Wing missions are:
- crew recovery, both in peacetime (SAR, Search and rescue) and war (CSAR, Combat SAR)
- support Special Operations
- contribute in the event of serious disasters to activities of public utility such as the search for missing persons at sea or in mountain terrain
- emergency medical transport of patients in danger of life
- rescue of seriously traumatized patients
- transport in bio-containment
- support forest firefighting activities
The training level of the crews, the technological characteristics of the helicopters supplied as well as the use of special equipment and techniques, such as the use of night vision goggles (NVG) often make the 15 Air Wing the only helicopter capable of successfully managing complex situations particularly in marginal weather conditions.
Whenever a helicopter of the 15th Air Wing takes off it is either saving a human life or is training to do so. In fact, since its establishment until today, their crews have saved over 7200 people in danger of life.
Italian Air Force enhances emergency response and homeland security capabilities with the delivery of the first HH-139B helicopter
Leonardo, December 3, 2020 - Leonardo has announced today the recent delivery of the first HH-139B twin engine helicopter to the Italian Air Force, a customised variant of the bestselling AW139 platform, from its facility based in Vergiate.
The aircraft is the first of 17 HH-139Bs and deliveries are expected to be completed by 2021, in order to further strengthen the multirole capabilities of the Italian Air Force as an essential enabler to support emergency response and security requirements across the nation. The helicopter will be operated by the Italian Air Force’s 15th Wing which is in charge for search and rescue (SAR) duties and supports the national community in case of disaster relief operations.
The HH-139Bs will perform a range of missions including SAR, fire-fighting, Slow Mover Intercept, and join an existing fleet of 13 multirole HH-139As and four VH-139As, the latter are used for Government transport missions. Compared to the HH-139A, the 7-tonne HH-139B variant features, among others, new electro-optics, new radar, a new rescue hoist and a mission console in the cabin. Core avionics will feature Phase 8 software release allowing even more advanced and safer all-weather navigation and mission capabilities.
In order to ensure the greatest level of responsiveness and effectiveness, an extended coverage area will be ensured by distributing the helicopters in several bases. Each aircraft can be quickly reconfigured from SAR to MEDEVAC or fire-fighting. The growth of the Italian Air Force’s HH-139 fleet also benefits from unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities and synergies across the growing AW139 fleets of Government and public service operators in Italy.
This reinforces the possibility to perform effective and safe joint operations with other users of this modern type and represents a quantum leap in homeland security, disaster relief capability and overall through-life-cycle cost/effectiveness for the future. During the Covid-19 pandemic, AW139s have been extensively used in Italy to deliver unique biocontainment installation transport services in its class.
In Italy, the AW139 has also been selected by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, State Police, Coast Guard, National Fire Corps and Carabinieri, in addition to several emergency medical service operators. This latest Italian Air Force’s programme brings the total number of AW139s chosen by all of these Italian Government operators to nearly 80, covering a wide scope of public utility roles including law enforcement and homeland security, patrol, special operations and anti-terrorism, SAR, fire-fighting, command and control, government/VVIP transport, disaster relief and training.
Many military or law enforcement operators from countries around the world have selected or are already operating the AW139 to fulfil their requirements. With orders placed by over 280 customers from more than 70 nations, the AW139 is the most successful helicopter programme in the last 15 years with almost 1,100 units in-service logging over 2.9 million flight hours for the widest range of missions. The US Air Force (USAF) will soon introduce the AW139-based Boeing MH-139 to replace the UH-1N fleet.
Leonardo is committed to serving and protecting communities around the world, contributing to their sustainable growth by leading in next generation technologies. Partnering with Governments, private organisations, and industries for the best security and safety capabilities and this is a cornerstone of Leonardo’s Be Tomorrow 2030 Strategic Plan.