ROME, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- AgustaWestland's AW-101A medium lift helicopter has entered into operational service with the Italian Air Force for search-and-rescue operations, recovery of personnel and special forces missions.
The aircraft is the first of four delivered to the service, designated the HH-101A Caesar. The Italian Air Force ordered 15 of the helicopters from AgustaWestland, which is part of Finmeccanica.
The AW-101 is known as the Merlin and is operated by at least seven countries. It has a cruise speed of 167 miles per hour, a range of 517 miles and a service ceiling of 15,000 feet.
It comes in a number of variants, most equipped with self-defense systems, and can be outfitted with torpedoes.
"With the HH-101A CAESAR, the Italian Air Force is introducing into service the most advanced and capable aircraft available today for this demanding operational requirement, developed and tailored to meet specific customer needs in the framework of its helicopter fleet modernization program," said Finmeccanica.