Leonardo has delivered the first HH-139B, a customized variant of the AW139 twin engine helicopter, to the Italian Air Force from its facility based in Vergiate.
This is the first of 17 HH-139Bs ordered by Italy 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, firefighting, 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 firefighting.
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, firefighting, command and control, government/VVIP transport, disaster relief and training.
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 Grey Wolf to replace the UH-1N fleet.