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Leonardo delivers first HH-139B to Italian Air Force

December 3, 2020  By Helicopters Staff

Image courtesy of Aeronautica Militare

Leonardo has delivered the first HH-139B twin-engine helicopter to the Italian Air Force, a customized variant of the AW139 platform, from its facility based in Vergiate.

The aircraft is the first of 17 HH-139Bs ordered with deliveries expected to be complete by 2021. Leonardo explains the aircraft will further strengthen the multirole capabilities of the Italian Air Force as an essential enabler to support emergency response and security requirements across the nation.

The first HH-139B will be operated by the Italian Air Force’s 15th Wing, which is in charge for search and rescue (SAR) duties; and supports the national community in case of disaster relief operations.

The HH-139Bs will perform a range of missions including SAR, fire-fighting, Slow Mover Intercept, and join an existing fleet of 13 multirole HH-139As and four VH-139As, the latter are used for Government transport missions.


Compared to the HH-139A, the 7-tonne HH-139B variant features, among other advances, new electro-optics, new radar, a new rescue hoist and a mission console in the cabin. Core avionics will feature Phase 8 software release allowing even more advanced and safer all-weather navigation and mission capabilities.

In order to ensure the greatest level of responsiveness and effectiveness, Leonardo explains an extended coverage area will be ensured by distributing the helicopters in several bases. Each aircraft can be quickly reconfigured from SAR to MEDEVAC or fire-fighting.

Leonardo explains the growth of the Italian Air Force’s HH-139 fleet also benefits from unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities and synergies across the growing AW139 fleets of Government and public service operators in Italy.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, AW139s have been extensively used in Italy to deliver unique bio-containment installation transport services in its class.

In Italy, the AW139 has also been selected by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, State Police, Coast Guard, National Fire Corps and Carabinieri, in addition to several emergency medical service operators. This latest Italian Air Force program brings the total number of AW139s chosen by all of these Italian Government operators to nearly 80.

With orders placed by over 280 customers from more than 70 nations, Leonardo states the AW139 is the most successful helicopter program of the last 15 years with almost 1,100 units in-service logging over 2.9 million flight hours for the widest range of missions. The US Air Force (USAF) will soon introduce the AW139-based Boeing MH-139 to replace the UH-1N fleet.


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