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Italian VVFF: contract for three AW-139 helicopters

Valued at around €45 million also includes services, with an option for 12 additional units

Aircraft to perform maritime and mountain SAR, medical rescue, firefighting and disaster relief/civil protection missions; 56 aircraft ordered by the Italian Government for public services to date; over 270 customers from around 70 Nations have already ordered more than 1100 AW-139s

In a move to enhance its emergency multirole airborne capabilities to more effectively counter the ever increasing risks of firefighting duties, the Italian National Fire Corps (Vigili del Fuoco) has signed a contract for the supply of three AW-139 intermediate twin engine helicopters. The order, valued at around €45 million, also includes integrated logistic support and training for pilots and technicians, and encompasses an option for 12 additional units. Deliveries of the three new aircraft are expected to start shortly and to be completed in 2019.

Over 816,000 rescue operations occur every year countering fires across Europe, including many in Italy this year. In order to better face these challenges the Italian National Fire Corps, part of the department of firefighters, public rescue and civil defence within the Ministry of the Interior, is acquiring the rescue helicopter capable to also carry out maritime and mountain Search and Rescue (SAR), medical rescue, and disaster relief/civil protection. The AW-139 has been selected by the customer following a competitive tender launched in 2017.

The 7 tonne AW-139s of the Italian National Fire Corps are expected to progressively replace their AB-412 aircraft which have been in service for decades. The new units of the Italian National Fire Corps will 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, industry’s high definition mission console with digital recorder, high definition down link, Leonardo’s Optical Proximity LiDAR System (OPLS), Night Vision Goggle (NVG) capability, new generation Trakka searchlight, emergency floatation system and external life rafts, external loudspeaker, medical rack and bubble windows.

Its design incorporates a large spacious cabin accessed by two sliding doors, powerful engines that deliver performance and safety, making it the aircraft of choice in its weight class. One engine inoperative capability ensures the aircraft can accomplish the most demanding missions while maintaining the ability to fly away safely in the rare event of an engine failure. The cockpit features the latest technology including fully integrated avionics, a 4-axis digital Automatic Flight Control System with dedicated SAR modes and large flat panel colour displays, reducing pilot workload and allowing the crew to concentrate on the mission.

"The AW-139 has also been selected by and is in service with the Italy’s Customs and Border Protection Service, State Police, Coast Guard and Air Force. The various Italian Government agencies operating this model are able to benefit from shared logistics, training and support systems. This latest selection by the Italian National Fire Corps brings the total number of units chosen by all of these Italian Government operators to 56, covering a wide scope of public utility roles including law enforcement and homeland security, patrol, special operations, search and rescue, command and control, government/VVIP transport, disaster relief and training.Many law enforcement, maritime/border patrol and security agencies from countries around the world, including Italy, the UK, USA, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Sweden, Spain, Estonia, The Netherlands, Brazil, and UAE, have selected or are already operating the AW-139 to fulfil their requirements. Over 270 customers from around 70 Nations have already ordered over 1100 AW-139s, more than 900 of which are in service, confirming itself as the bestselling aircraft in its category", according to a note issued by the industry.

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