The first of 12 Italian Air Force HH-101A Ceasar combat search and rescue helicopters made its first flight on 19 March 2014 at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility in the UK.
The first and and the second machine will be delivered to the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI) before the end of this year, configured for Personnel Recovery and Special Forces missions. Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Pasquale Prezios: “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 fly with a crew of up to five crew plus twenty fully equipped troops, or six crew members plus 8 troops for special operations. 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 refueling kit for extended range operations.
Italy’s HH-101A is a variant of the AW101 model, of which more than 220 aircraft have been ordered so fare for transport, SAR, CSAR, special forces ops, anti-shipping and anti-submarine warfare, minesweeping and VIP transport.