CASCINA COSTA DI SAMARATE, Italy, March 12 (UPI) -- The first of 10 AgustaWestland HH-139A medium-lift helicopters has entered service with the Italian air force.
The HH-139As will supplement the Air Force's HH-212 and HH-3F helicopters in search-and-rescue operations.
"This significant event is the first major step in support of the service's modernization program, which will also see the HH-101 "Caesar" replacing the HH-3F Pelicans in the Combat SAR role," AgustaWestland Chief Executive Officer Bruno Spagnolini said at a handover ceremony.
"The HH-139A will complement the HH-101s while providing a quantum leap forward in operational capabilities and cost effectiveness compared to the present fleet of HH-3Fs and HH-212s."
The HH-139A ordered by Italy features heavy duty landing gear, secure communications, a rescue hoist, search light, wire cutters, nose mounted FLIR and emergency floatation gear.
It has a maximum cruise speed of nearly 190 miles per hour and a range of more than 658 miles when using auxiliary fuel tanks.
The remaining helicopters on order are expected to be delivered by the end of the year.