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Italian Air Force receives first HH-139B SAR helicopter

Photo: Italian Air Force

The Italian Air Force has taken delivery of the first HH-139B twin engine helicopter for search and rescue (SAR) duties.

The unit landed at the Cervia Air Base in northern Italy on November 27. It is one of 17 HH-139Bs that are expected to be delivered by 2021. The helicopter will be operated by the Italian Air Force’s 15th Wing which is in charge of SAR missions 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.

Each of the HH-139Bs will be capable of being quickly reconfigured from SAR to MEDEVAC or fire-fighting.

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 program brings the total number of AW139s chosen by all of these Italian government operators to nearly 80.

The HH-139B is equipped with a double-winch system that increases reliability and improves recovery operations.