Rome, 01 December 2020 – On 30 November the first HH139B intended to complete and strengthen the helicopter fleet of the 15th Wing and the SAR Centers/Groups falling under its dependence landed at Cervia. The helicopter was delivered on November 27 at the Leonardo plants in Vergiate (VA), following the successful conclusion of testing and acceptance procedures conducted by the personnel of the Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness Department (DAAA), together with the men of the Milan Territorial Technical Office of (UTT) with the support of the Air Force Test Flight Department.
The delivery of the helicopters will end in 2021 and will see the delivery of 17 “B” version aircraft to the Flight Squadrons bsed in Cervia and to the S.A.R. (Search and Rescue) Centres located throughout the country (80th CSAR of Decimomannu, Cagliari, 82nd CSAR in Trapani, 84th CSAR in Gioia del Colle and 85th CSAR in Pratica di Mare).
The new HH139B version features some technical features that improve its operational capacity and therefore increase its flexibility of use to respond to emergencies and security needs.
The new version has been equipped with a double winch that increases the reliability of the system and the safety during recovery operations and a mission console that allows better management of the on-board equipment during the search for missing persons. In addition the maximum take-off weight has been increased from 6,800kg to 7,000kg, which allows a greater payload load capacity. Finally it has been updated with the latest generation avionics and on-board sensors, such as the AIS system – Automatic Identification System – which allows better interaction with vessels and the OPLS – Obstacle Proximity LIDAR System – which favors identification and separation with orographic obstacles.
The 15th Wing has the task of recovering crews in distress in peacetime (SAR – Search And Rescue) as well as in time of crisis and in downrange operations (C/SAR – Combat SAR), to support Special Operations, as well as to contribute in the event of natural disasters or public utility activities such as searching for missing persons at sea or in the mountains, emergency medical transport of life-threatening patients and the rescue of seriously traumatized patients, transport in bio-containment conditions and, recently, also in support to 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 that of night vision goggles, often make the 15th Wing the only helicopter component capable of successfully managing complex emergencies situations thanks, for example, to the ability to fly during the day, at night and in marginal weather conditions. Whenever a helicopter of the 15th Wing takes off it is either saving a human life, or is training to do so. In fact, since its constitution until today, the crews of the 15th Wing have saved over 7,200 people in life danger.
Unofficial translation by EDR On-Line
Photos courtesy Italian Air Force