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.
Provided that it can be easily, partially disassembled, a large, heavy, multi-role helicopter can be carried inside an airlifter (a large one).
Heli-Expo 2014 at Anaheim Convention Center, California, is one of those events companies which have to deal with helicopters can’t miss: it is expected to host 20,000 industry professionals, +700 exhibitors and feature more than 60 helicopters on display.
AgustaWestland plans to display (for the first time in North America) the AgustaWestland Family of new generation helicopters: the AW169, AW139, AW189, plus the PZL-Swidnik SW-4 five seat single engine helicopter. Furthermore it will perform customer demo flights with the AW609 Tilt Rotor plane and the AW189, the brand new multirole chopper “optimised to operate in harsh conditions undertaking long range, deep water missions typical of the Offshore industry.”
Do you how a 8-ton chopper is moved across the Pond?
You need a helicopter that can be partially disassembled (the rotor, at least) and the “help” of a large cargo plane, as the AN-124 Ruslan you can see in the footage below.
According to the U.S. Army, the photo was taken by an Apache of the 1st Bn., 227th Avn. Reg, “First Attack”, but the type of blade that can be seen in the upper portion of the frame seems to point towards another CH-47 Chinook, rather than an AH-64D Apache.
Anyway, an attack chopper the Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was most probably escorting the “convoy”, hence the caption.
When President of the U.S. travels aboard the VH-3D (or any other chopper operated by the USMC HMX-1 – Marine Helicopter Squadron One), the helicopter uses the radio callsign “Marine One” by which the aircraft is known.
Here’s a rare behind the scenes video showing POTUS chopper, the only one belonging to a head of a state to be carried aboard to follow the president in its visits.