AW139M initiates South American tour at FIDAE 2014
|Friday 4 April 2014||Text by Carlos Ay under Defence & security|
Finmeccanica’s helicopter branch, AgustaWestland, provided one of the few military highlights at FIDAE 2014 by launching an AW139M four-week South American demonstration tour at Chile’s premiere air show. Both at the fair and during the remainder of the tour, the European manufacturer intended to fly a variety of potential government customers and let them test the type’s capabilities for roles such as homeland security, search and rescue, armed patrol and battlefield support.
By touring the region with a fully-operational example crewed by its present operation (Italian Air Force’s HH-139A MM81797/15-41, flown by a 15 Stormo crew), AgustaWestland expected to attract significant interest from government operators requiring a cost effective “off-the-shelf” multi-role helicopter, combining features of its AW139 commercial counterpart together with a wide range of military equipment options.
AW139M’s specific equipment options include armoured cockpit seats to improve crew protection, ballistic-tolerant self-sealing fuel tanks, heavy-duty landing gear, high-definition FLIR, defensive aids, crashworthy troop seats, mission-specific avionics as well as tactical communications and external weapon stores systems.
The variant also features a low thermal and acoustic signature and is available with an optional full ice protection system. Able to operate ashore and at sea, the AW139M’s high performance search radar, Electro-Optic / Infra Red (EO/IR) device with video recording and downlink, personnel insertion/extraction equipment (including hoist, fast roping and rappelling points) make it ideal for law enforcement missions. For battlefield operations the AW139 can carry a range of armament including heavy machine gun pods, 2.75” (70mm) air-to-ground rockets, 12.7mm sniper rifle and 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns.
The large constant section cabin can accommodate up to 15 passengers or 10 fully-equipped soldiers on crashworthy troop seats or a wide range of equipment and cargo. The stowage area to the rear of the cabin is accessible internally in flight or externally on the ground. With the external cargo hook, loads of up to 2,200 kg (4,850 lbs) can be transported to the battlefield. Two large sliding cabin doors assist ingress and egress of personnel. Crew and occupants can be protected by modular armor protection in the cabin and cockpit.
The AW139M is one of AgustaWestland’s dual-use concept products, carrying all the benefits of being an “off-the-shelf” solution with over 850,000 flight hours of experience with hundreds of operators all over the world. The type is part of the AgustaWestland family of new-generation helicopters that includes the AW169M and AW149 models, which possess the same high performance flight characteristics and safety features and share a common cockpit layout, design philosophy and maintenance concept. This commonality will allow more effective operations for customers operating helicopter fleets across the 4 to 8.5 tonne weight categories.
Military operators of the AW139 include the Italian Air Force (10 units) and Coast Guard, the Irish Air Corps, the Qatar Emiri Air Force, the UAE Armed Forces (9), the Royal Thai Army and the Trinidad & Tobago Army (4), to name a few.