AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the first AW101 for the Italian Air Force, designated the HH-101A “CAESAR”, made its maiden flight at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility in the UK today at the presence of the Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Pasquale Preziosa, the Italian Ambassador Domenico Terracciano, the Director of ARMAEREO Lt. General Domenico Esposito, the 2 Group RAF Air Officer Commander Air Vice Marshal Sean Reynolds and other representatives and dignitaries from military services and public authorities. This and the second aircraft will be delivered in the last quarter of 2014 configured for Personnel Recovery and Special Forces missions.
Daniele Romiti, Chief Executive Office, AgustaWestland said “We are delighted to show the Italian Air Force the first aircraft of its future new fleet of personnel recovery-dedicated helicopters. This event marks another major milestone in providing our contribution to the Italian Air Force’s rotary wing fleet modernization programme which in recent years has the launch, development and delivery of the HH-139 for Search and Rescue.”“With the HH-101A “CAESAR” the Italian Air Force will introduce into service the most advanced and capable aircraft available for this demanding operational requirement, developed and tailored to meet specific customer requirements ensuring a quantum leap forward in capability. We are committed to supporting the Italian Air Force in the years to come and assure that our team will provide the level of service they deserve.”Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Pasquale Preziosa said “The HH-101A will respond to the Italian Air Force’s needs for Personnel Recovery and Special Forces Operations. It will also support SAR, MEDEVAC and Slow Mover Intercept operations which are extremely important to provide effective support to the Italian community. Thanks to its performances, versatility and reliability, the HH-101A is the best solution for the Italian Air Force’s future operational capability requirements.”
The HH-101A will be able to host a combination of up to five crew members plus twenty fully equipped troops or six crew members plus 8 troops for special operations ensuring maximum flexibility. The helicopters will also feature three M134 7.62 mm pintle mounted Gatling-type machine guns installed on right and left sides and on the rear ramp, armoured cockpit seats, ballistic protection for machine gun operators as well as for critical systems and an Integrated Electronic Warfare System providing self-protection against radar, laser and infrared threats. The HH-101A will also feature an air-to-air refuelling kit for extended range operations.
The AW101 is the most advanced medium lift helicopter available today and is in service, in production and in demand for its proven performance. The AW101 offers long-range, large capacity and advanced technology, all combined in a cost-effective, multi-mission aircraft opening up a new era in rotary wing operations. Over 220 AW101 helicopters have been ordered so far by customers worldwide to perform a large number of roles including Personnel Recovery, Special Forces Operations, SAR, Combat SAR, utility, troop transport, Anti-Surface Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Airborne Early Warning, mine sweeping and VVIP transport.
(http://www.agustawestland.com/news/first-italian-air-force-aw101-makes-its-maiden-flight – Photo credits AgustaWestalnad)