Italian Air Force's AW101 CSAR
The Italian Air Force AW101s (named HH - 101), configured for Personnel Recovery and for support to the Special Forces Operstions, will be operational with the 21st Group of the 9° Stormo Caccia (9th Fighters Wing) based in Grazzanise (Caserta).
The helicopters are fitted with a wide range of equipment, including the Gabbiano radar, communication and self-protection systems and machine guns, mostly supplied by Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Airborne & Space Systems and Defence Systems Divisions.
The new helicopters have a highly flexible configuration, with a capacity of up to 5 crew members and 20 people with their individual equipment, as well as having the option of installing up to 10 stretchers. The AW101 has a payload of up to 2,500 kg inside the cabin or 3,000 kg of external payload, through the use of the cargo hook. Helicopters are also used in support of the population for search and rescue missions, medical evacuation and security missions, such as countering potentially hazardous low-performance aircraft.
The HH-101As are equipped with armoured pilots’ seats, ballistic protection for gunners and for vital parts of the helicopter, machine guns, active and passive self-protection systems, in-flight refuelling probe, rescue hoist, high definition electro-optical system, NVG, Head-Up Display, search radar, tactical/satellite radios, video transmission/reception tactical system.
The operational efficiency of the Italian Air Force’s personnel recovery operations has been significantly increased thanks to the AW101 CSAR, developed and customised to meet specific requirements as part of the modernisation programme of the Italian Air Force’s helicopter fleet.
AW101: A GLOBAL SUCCESS
To date, more than 220 AW101 helicopters have been sold worldwide, from Italy to Japan, from Canada to the United Kingdom and Norway.
220 is the success figure of this three-engine helicopter, developed in the early 1980s by two leading European helicopter manufacturers, Agusta and Westland and that, later, combined all their expertise and experience into a single industrial entity that has been absorbed by Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Helicopter Division.
Over time, the configuration of the 16-tonne class AW101 helicopter was modified and updated in response to requests and needs of both the military market, in particular the versions dedicated to the personnel recovery missions, Special Operations, troops and tactical transport, MEDEVAC/CASEVAC, and the government market, especially in its Heads of State transport configuration.
The AW101 is made with the most recent and modern composite materials, allowing a reduction in weight and, at the same time, an increase in the structural strength and tolerance to fatigue. Light alloys are also employed for the blades of the main and tail rotors, ensuring the highest level of safety, reliability and damage tolerance (such as protection from impacts with birds and from lightning strikes). It is also equipped with a transmission capable of ensuring high performance and maximum safety as well as a system for in-flight refuelling in order to further extend its range.