Italy purchases three AW139 helicopters

Will be used for fire suppression and search & rescue. There is an option to buy 12 more.

Leonardo photo.

The Italian government’s Fire Brigade has signed a contract to purchase three AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters from Leonardo. The € 45 million order includes integrated support and training services for pilots and technicians and provides options for an additional 12 AW139’s . The delivery of the three new helicopters will begin shortly and will be completed in 2019. 

The AW139 was chosen by the Fire Brigade following a tender held in mid-2017. The helicopters will be equipped with a wide range of equipment including a recovery winch, cargo hook for the use of a firefighting water bucket, weather radar, satellite communication system, electro-optical system, high-definition mission console, data transmission system, an advanced anti-collision system, night vision capability, searchlight, floats, lifeboats, PA system, and medical instrumentation.

The Los Angeles Fire Department currently operates four AW139’s as well as two Bell Jet Rangers. 

LA CITY HELICOPTERS
A LA Fire Department AW139 sits atop LAPD’s Hooper Heliport. Photo by Ryan Mason.

Video of Hughes NH 500 helicopter during firefighting activity in Italy

The video shows an Italian Forest Service Hughes NH 500 filling a Bambi Bucket from a variety of water sources, and then finally at the end shows it dropping water on a wildfire.

Here is a description of their firefighting helicopter program:

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“Among the Italian Armed Corps, the Corpo Forestale dello Stato (CFS, Italian for Forestry Service) acts as a police and ranger force, responsible for protecting Italy’s natural and environmental resources and eco-systems. Its duties include the prevention of environmental violations and wildfires, safeguarding animal species, ensuring antipoaching and habitat protection, and providing SAR in mountainous areas.

The CFS has a fleet of helicopters which includes NH-500Ds, AB-412s, Erickson S-64Fs and AW-109Ns used for fire-fighting, early spotting of wildfires, and coordination of other aircraft or with ground-based firefighters.

The Service also owns a P.180 fitted with a forward looking infra-red (FLIR)/TV camera system for ground surveillance in anti-pollution monitoring and geological/wildlife control, which can easily be configured as an air ambulance by means of a medical kit, and can ferry specialized teams or VIPs to various helicopter stations.

In summer, the aircraft are strategically deployed in areas where wildfire risk is higher.”