|One of Italy’s 10 new HH-139As in service with the Air Force. AgustaWestland|
AgustaWestland has handed over the first of 10 HH-139As to the Italian Air Force. The helicopters will serve in search and rescue (SAR) operations with the Air Force’s fleet of older Bell HH-212s and Sikorsky HH-3F Pelicans. The older aircraft are set for replacement with AgustaWestland’s HH-101s as the first part of Italy’s combat SAR modernization program. The HH-139A is an short-term solution for the SAR fleet replacement and upgrade program; the AW149 is currently being developed answer the Air Force requirement for a medium-class SAR helicopter. AgustaWestland expects certification for the new militarized variant in 2013. The nine remaining HH-139As are slated for delivery by the end of this year.