The Italian National Fire Corps has purchased five additional AW139s from Leonardo Helicopters as part of an $84 million deal that also includes integrated logistic support and training for crews and technicians.
Those helicopters — valued at more than €75 million — are in addition to three AW139s already purchased by Vigili del Fuoco, part of the country’s Ministry of the Interior. Leonardo already has delivered two aircraft in 2019 this year. The five new helicopters are expected to be delivered in June 2020.
The Italian National Fire Corps is in the process of replacing its decades-old Bell AB412 helicopters to improve its firefighting coverage and responsiveness across the country. The fleet modernization program includes an option for seven additional helicopters which could be added to the eight already ordered.
“Introduction of the AW139 marks a major enhancement of airborne multirole capabilities with the world’s most modern helicopter for maritime and mountain Search and Rescue (SAR), medical rescue, firefighting and disaster relief duties,” Leonardo said in a statement.
Over 816,000 rescues and sorties are performed in Europe every year to counter wildfires, many of which are in Italy. The Italian National Fire Corps AW139 helicopters feature a wide range of mission equipment, including an external rescue hoist, cargo hook with bambi bucket provision, weather radar, multi-band and satellite communication systems, high definition Forward Looking Infra-Red / Low Light TV (FLIR/LLTV) system, Leonardo’s high definition mission console with digital recorder, high definition down link, Leonardo’s Optical Proximity LiDAR System (OPLS), Night Vision Goggle (NGV) capability, new generation Trakka searchlight, emergency floatation system and external life rafts, external loudspeaker, medical rack and bubble windows. The aircraft also feature an advanced 4-axis autopilot.
Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, State Police, Coast Guard and Air Force all have chosen to fly the AW139, as well as several emergency medical service operators, according to Leonardo. This latest order by the National Fire Corps, brings the total number of AW139s chosen by all of these Italian Government operators to 61, covering a wide scope of public utility roles including law enforcement and homeland security, patrol, special operations and anti-terrorism, search and rescue, firefighting, command and control, government/VVIP transport, disaster relief and training.
Many law enforcement and security agencies from countries around the world, including Italy, the U.K., U.S., Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Sweden, Spain, Estonia, The Netherlands, Brazil, UAE, Oman and Croatia have selected or are already operating the AW139 to fulfil their requirements. The U.S. Air Force chose the AW139 as the base aircraft — militarized by Boeing into the MH139 — to replace its fleet of UH-1N Huey missile-field patrol aircraft.
More than 270 customers from 70 nations have ordered 1,100 AW139s, more than 950 of which are in service.