The first AW101 for the Italian Air Force, designated the HH-101A “CAESAR”, made its maiden flight at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility in the UK
The new helicopter, in an interesting black color scheme, made its first flight at the presence of the Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Pasquale Preziosa and other representatives and dignitaries from military services and public authorities.
The HH-101A will be the backbone of the Italian Air Force’s rotary wing fleet that was already modernized with the HH-139 for Search and Rescue.
The first two examples of the HH-101A will be delivered in Q4/2014 in Personnel Recovery and Special Forces missions configuration.
Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Pasquale Preziosa said “The HH-101A will respond to the Italian Air Force’s needs for Personnel Recovery and Special Forces Operations. It will also support SAR, MEDEVAC and Slow Mover Intercept operations which are extremely important to provide effective support to the Italian community.”
The HH-101A will be able to host a combination of up to five crew members plus twenty fully equipped troops or six crew members plus 8 troops for special operations ensuring maximum flexibility. The helicopters will also feature three M134 7.62 mm pintle mounted Gatling-type machine guns installed on right and left sides and on the rear ramp, armoured cockpit seats, ballistic protection for machine gun operators as well as for critical systems and an Integrated Electronic Warfare System providing self-protection against radar, laser and infrared threats. The HH-101A will also feature an air-to-air refuelling kit for extended range operations.
Image credit: AgustaWestland
Last month, Sardinia Island, Italy, was hit by a tornado, dubbed “Cleopatra” that cost the life of 16 people including 4 children.
Aircraft, helicopters and personnel belonging to all the Italian Armed Forces and Corps joined the relief efforts throughout the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Among the units called to support the rescue operations there was also the 670^ Squadriglia, based at Decimomannu airbase, with its AB-212 helicopter.
The 670^ Squadriglia is tasked with Search And Rescue and its crews daily train to undertake these missions in the mountains or (considered the location of the base on an island), more frequently, at sea.
In Summer 2013, The Aviationist was invited to take part in a training mission in the Gulf of Cagliari. Alessandro Caglieri and Gian Luca Onnis boarded the AB.212 helicopter and shot the images and footage of the helicopter winching ops.
Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis and Alessandro Caglieri
On Sept. 24, 2013, the Italian Minister of Defense announced that the Frecce Tricolori, Italian Air Force’s aerobatic display team will replace their MB.339s with the Alenia Aermacchi M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer).
Even if the new basic-advanced trainer will be inducted into active service between 2017 and 2010, Finmeccanica has already unveiled what the traditional livery of the Frecce Tricolori on the M-345 HET could look like.
Image credit: Finmeccanica
As explained on a previous post, on Jun. 11 (a day after it was originally planned), Italian Eurofighter with 4°, 36° and 37° Stormo (Wings) deployed to Keflavik Airbase, Iceland to provide a NATO air defense capability to the Northern European country that does not operate autonomous airspace surveillance aircraft.
“Operation Icy Skies” includes maintenance and support personnel as well as air defence controllers from GRCDA (Air Surveillance Squadron), 21st and 22nd Radar Squadron, respectively, based in Poggio Renatico (Ferrara), Poggio Ballone (Grosseto) e Licola (Naples), that provide reporting and control services and airspace surveillance services within the Iceland AOR (area of responsability).
The Italian involvement in Iceland’s air defense is a clear example of the new NATO strategic concept that encourages asset and cost sharing, as well as capability pooling.
Two KC-767A aerial tankers (MM62227 and MM62228) ferried the Italian Typhoons to Iceland on 11 June, in two flights; both departed the following day.
The following images were taken by Eggert Norðdahl at Keflavik, as the Typhoons (F-2000A according to the Italian Mission Design Series) performed the first orientation and dedicated training sorties required for the subsequent NATO validation of the Italian Air Force assets.
Image credit: Eggert Norðdahl
On Jun. 10, six Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets of the Italian Air Force deployed to Iceland to provide air policing of the airspace around the northern European island.
Supported by two KC-767A aerial refuelers and a C-130J cargo plane, the Italian jets will provide QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duties for the NATO from Keflavik airbase.
About 150 military deployed to Iceland within Operation Icelandic Air Policing 2013.
Image credit: The Aviationist/Alessandro Fucito
The Italian Air Force, that already provides air policing of Slovenia and Albania airspaces, will take over the control of the airspace in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in January-April 2015.