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With the delivery of the first two AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopters, Leonardo and the Italian National Fire Corps (Vigili del Fuoco, part of the Ministry of the Interior) announced a major step forward in strengthening their collaboration delivering advanced, more effective emergency response services in Italy.
The event was celebrated during an official ceremony held at Leonardo’s Vergiate facility on April 18 in the presence of government representatives and local authorities.
The introduction of the AW139 marks a major enhancement of airborne multirole capabilities with a modern helicopter for maritime and mountain search-and-rescue (SAR), medical rescue, firefighting and disaster relief duties.
Over 816,000 rescues and sorties are performed every year countering fires across Europe, including many in Italy, and the AW139s, planned to progressively replace the Italian National Fire Corps’ AB412 helicopters that have been in service for decades, will guarantee optimal coverage and an even more rapid responsiveness across the country.
The Italian National Fire Corps will receive a third AW139 this year under the €45 million (US$50 million) contract signed in 2018. The contract also includes integrated logistic support and training for pilots and technicians, and encompasses an option for 12 additional helicopters. The first two helicopters will be based in Rome Ciampino for National Fire Corps personnel training.
The backbone of the country’s rescue services, the AW139 is also in service with the Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, State Police, Coast Guard and Air Force.
The National Fire Corps’ AW139s feature a wide range of mission equipment, including an external rescue hoist; cargo hook with Bambi Bucket provision; weather radar; multi-band and satellite communication systems; high-definition forward looking infrared / low light TV (FLIR/LLTV) system; Leonardo’s high-definition mission console with digital recorder; high-definition down link; Leonardo’s Optical Proximity LiDAR System (OPLS); night vision goggle (NVG) capability; new-generation Trakka searchlight; emergency flotation system and external life rafts; external loudspeaker; medical rack; and bubble windows.