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.


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.