Italian Air Force Celebrates 10 Years Of Service Of Its VH-139A Helicopters

VH-139A
One of the VH-139A of the 31° Stormo (All images: Giovanni Maduli)

The first VH-139A was delivered to the 31° Stormo at Ciampino airport 10 years ago.

On May 31, 2022, the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), celebrated the first 10 years of service of its VH-139A helicopter. The event gathered pilots, crews, technicians, former members and friends of the 93° Gruppo (Squadron) at Ciampino airport, where the first VH-139 landed on May 31, 2012, to join the 31° Stormo (Wing) one of the most famous of the Italian Air Force, whose tasks are the VIP/State Authorities Transportation, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Humanitarian Transportation.

During the opening speech, Major Federico Rispoli, commander of the 93° Gruppo said: “for the peculiar type of mission we are called to carry out, which is often assigned to us with short notice and for the most varied reasons, the VH-139 helicopter looks like tailor-made for us. Thanks to features such as versatility and flexibility, it allows us to successfully complete even the most difficult missions.”

VH-139A on the ground.

The squadron operates two VH-139As, serialled MM81806 and MM81807.

The 31° Stormo fleet includes also Falcon 50 (depicted in this photo), Falcon 900 and Airbus A319CJ jets.

The VH-139A is a VIP-configured version of the highly successful Leonardo AW139, a 15-seat medium-sized twin-engined multi-mission helicopter that, with 1,700 airframes, is in service, in various configurations and variants, with +270 governments, militaries and companies in 70 countries, and logging +3M flight hours. For instance, the MH-139A “Grey Wolf” is the variant selected by the U.S. Air Force to replace the current UH-1N “Huey”, and provide security and support for the InterContinental Ballistic Missile facilities as part of a fleet managed by the Global Strike Command. The Italian Air Force is the largest operator of AW139s: the service also flies the HH-139A and HH-139B variants.

One HH-139B was also attending the ceremony for the 10th anniversary of VH-139A service at Ciampino Airport.

“10 years of VH-139. A helicopter that has collected an important legacy, that of the SH-3D” said the Commander of the 31st Wing, Colonel Gianmattia Somma. “In these ten years it has shown that it is up to par with its predecessor, bringing home equally excellent and important results. Leonardo’s VH-139 represents one of the best syntheses of Made in Italy, also thanks to the teamwork between the Italian Air Force and the national aeronautical industry.”

Col. Gianmattia Somma with the pilots of the 93° Gruppo.

“In ten years, we have totaled about 6,500 flight hours, qualified 27 pilots, at the moment we have 12 pilots and 14 on-board operators. who allow us to carry out the mission of the Stormo. Two Popes, two Presidents of Italy and many highest offices of the State and Government have flown with this helicopter”.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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.