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The Leonardo AW139 is a 15-seat medium helicopter which first flew in 2001. The AW139 has found success as a corporate transport helicopter and began operational use in 2003. The type has also gained a strong military reputation and has been ordered by a number of air forces including the Irish Air Corps. Boeing also build a version of the AW139 under licence called the MH-139A Grey Wolf which has replaced the UH-1N in US Air Force service as a security patrol helicopter for nuclear missile launch facilities. In the UK, the AW139 was previously used for Search and Rescue for His Majesties Coastguard.
The Italian Air Force operate three versions of the AW139. The HH-139A and HH-139B are specialised variants of the militarised AW139M, both of which are used for Search and Rescue, the HH-139B model is also configured to undertake Combat Search and Rescue behind enemy lines. The third version is a pair of VH-139A which the Italian Air Force use as VIP transports.
We are pleased to announce that the Italian Air Force are providing their rare HH-139B Search and Rescue demonstration for this year's Air Tattoo, the helicopter will be displaying as part of our celebration of the centenary of the Italian Air Force. This is the first time this display has appeared at RIAT and will be provided by 15° Stormo from Cervia Air Base. Photo Credit: RIAT Volunteer