Category Archives: Helicopters

Italian Navy Elite team conduct disabled submarine rescue training with support of EH-101 Merlin helicopter

Italian Navy EH-101 support SPAG (Submarine Parachute Assistance Group) activities of the e Gruppo Operativo Subacquei (G.O.S.) of COMSUBIN (Italian Navy Operational Divers Group).

Support of SPAG activities is among the tasks assigned to the 1° Gruppo Elicotteri, based at Luni, in northwestern Italy.

SPAG 1

The unit is equipped with EH-101 Merlin helos. Among the variants in service with the squadron, there is also the EH-101 ASH (amphibious support helicopter) used to carry members of the SPAG team including the submarine escape specialists of the GOS (Gruppo Operativo Subacquei – Divers Operative Group) of COMSUBIN (Italian Navy Operational Diver and Raider Command Group), the elite commando frogman force of the Marina Militare.

SPAG 3

Here are some images taken by The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli during a SPAG training mission of the GOS in the sea near La Spezia.

SPAG 4

The GOS is made of  various specialists engaged in underwater activities capable to perform rescue of personnel from disabled submarines  to a depth of 300 m; mine clearance operations and port facilities defense.

SPAG 5

Image credit: The Aviationist’s Giovanni Maduli

 

Italian Air Force bids farewell to the HH-3F Pelican C-SAR helicopter

The Italian Air Force has retired the HH-3F Pelican after 37 years of active service. The helicopter was replaced by the HH-139A.

On Sept. 26, with a ceremony held at Pratica di Mare airport, near Rome, Italy, at the presence of the CinC of the Air Staff Gen. Pasquale Preziosa, the Italian Air Force retired the HH-3F Pelican after 37 years of active service, 185,000 flying hours and 7,000 saved lives in Search And Rescue missions (and C-SAR ones) flown across Italy and abroad.

HH-3F side

The HH-3F helicopter, a variant of the Sikorsky S-61R produced by Agusta and in service with the 15° Stormo (Wing), will be replaced by the HH-139A, the AgustaWestland’s multipurpose chopper that the Italian Air Force has purchased in 10 examples.

HH-139A taxi

The HH-139A is equipped with a brand new heavy duty landing gear, secure communications suite, integrated defensive aids suite, hoist, search light, wire cutters, nose mounted FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red), cargo hook, loudspeaker system and emergency floatation gear and any other oddity required to perform “convetional” search and rescue, as well as Combat SAR missions in place of the venerable AB-212 and HH-3F.

The last flight was conducted by HH-3F MM81337 “15-25″ as the images in this post, taken at Pratica di Mare by The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli show.

HH-3F and HH-139A

Image credit: The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli.

 

[Video] First flight of a new Iraqi Army Mi-28 gunship helicopter at Baghdad

The Iraqi Army test flying their brand new Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunter helicopters.

The first of three Mi-28NE gunships delivered to Iraq has been assembled and already performed a test flight.

Indeed, the following video shows the new desert camouflage-painted all-weather, day-night, two-seat anti-armor attack helicopters performing a test flight at Baghdad airport.

Iraq with equip Iraqi Army Aviation with around 40 Mi-35 (export version of the Mi-24) and Mi-28NE attack helicopters to back operations against ISIS. Along with the Russian helicopters, Baghdad will get some American F-16 Block 52 jets.

H/T Satar Aliraqi for the heads-up

 

Six U.S. Army helicopters make an unplanned landing in a rapeseed field in Poland

Six U.S. Army helicopters have made an impromptu landing in Poland

On Sept. 10, six U.S. Army choppers landed in the middle of a rapeseed field near Gruta, Poland. Since the pilots did not know their location they received information leafleats on the municipality, in English.

The group consisted of Chinook and Black Hawk utility helicopters.

The unusual event gathered around 100 spectators. According to the information provided by TVN24 the chopper pilots lost their orientation due to the foggy weather conditions.

According to the official statement of the US Embassy the choppers, belonging to the U.S. Army 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, stationed in Germany, got a much appreciated warm welcome: aircrews were greeted by the locals with cakes and coffee.

The helicopters departed again to their destination about 2 hours later.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Choppers in Poland take off

Image credit: gruta.pl

 

Poland wants new Attack Helicopters to replace Mi-24 Hind gunships. Soon.

Poland has changed its priorities regarding acquisition of the helicopters. The general-purpose combat helicopter was to be the first purchase of the Polish Armed Forces, but now the weight has been shifted towards the assault choppers.

The original modernization plan for the Polish Armed Forces saw the Mi-24 Hind helicopters replaced not before 2020-22.

However, the ageing Hind gunships could make room to a new chopper as early as 2017, whereas the tender for the utility helicopter has been postponed.

There may be several reasons behind the decision to review the plans, including the Ukrainian crisis and the need to face Russian Mi-28 Havocs, several of those have been deployed to Kaliningrad Oblast, quite close to the Polish northern border.

According to Gazeta Wyborcza, one of the leading Polish dailies, the military officials claim that Mi-24 Hinds no longer have a high combat value. The trends in development of the assault helicopters are quite different from the concept that was driving the development progress of Mi-24 which could be treated as a beefed-up version of Huey with its 8-person transport capacity in the cabin placed within the fuselage. Contemporary assault gunships are more of CAS-tools, with much less transport-related capabilities.

Gazeta Wyborcza daily is quoting the Polish strategists who point out that in case of the Ukrainian crisis, the Ukrainian Army was unable to deploy units quick enough to face the Russian invasion.

Quick deployment is one of the key elements of the defensive operations, and this cannot be realized without CAS (Close Air Support) from the helicopters or assault aircraft. Since acquisition of the A-10 is quite unrealistic, assault choppers may be an appropriate solution.

The value of the attack helicopter bid is estimated to be 1 billion Euro, worth one of the biggest chopper procurement deal issued by a NATO member state.

Possible choices? AW-129 Mangusta and AH-64 Apache.

They are not to be produced in Poland, contrary to what is going to happen in case of the Polish utility helicopter tender.

The AH-64 is quite an expensive whereas the AW-129 is significantly cheaper. However, it will be the situation in eastern Europe and the diplomatic relations between U.S., Italy and Poland rather than the performance, payload and capabilities of the helicopters, to play a major role in the tender.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: Wikimedia