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The A-129 Mangusta was the first dedicated attack helicopter to be developed in Europe. The type was originally developed in response to a 1970s Italian Army requirement for an anti-tank helicopter and the A-129 was initially developed as a joint Italian-German project until Germany pulled out. The A-129 continued as an Italian only project resulting in a first flight during 1983 of the A-129 Mangusta. The first attempt to expand on the types capabilities was via a joint project between Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK however this project also collapsed in the 1990s when the Netherland and the UK pursued their own programmes. The A-129 has constantly been updated and the latest version, the A-129D carries advanced avionics and is armed with the advanced Spike-ER anti-tank missile. The A-129 is also being built under licence in Turkey as the T-129 ATAK and the Mangusta's replacement, the AW249 is currently subject to flight testing.
The Italian Army initially ordered a fleet of 60 A-129A attack helicopters which have been constantly updated resulting in the A-129D, now designated AH-129D entering into service in 2012. The type has seen combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to providing support for UN missions in the Republic of Macedonia, Somalia and Angola. The fleet of Mangustas in service has now reduced to 32 as the Italian Army awaits the delivery of the first AW249.
The Italian Army will be providing one of their AH-129D's to the flying display at this year's Air Tattoo. The last time a Mangusta appeared at RIAT was in 2005.
Photo Credit: Tony Osborne