The Italian Air Force has inducted the first AgustaWestland-built HH-101A Caesar special operations helicopter into services.
A military variant of AgustaWestland's AW101 helicopter, the Caesar helicopter is intended to carry out personnel recovery and Special Forces mission.
The helicopter is part of the 20 AW101s that Italy has ordered together with options for an additional four aircraft to replace the Italian Air Force's current fleet of Agusta / Sikorsky HH-3 Pelican amphibious medium-lift helicopters.
The aircraft has been designed to perform a range of missions, including air support to special operations (SAOS), personnel recovery (PR) and search-and-rescue (SAR).
The HH-101A helicopters are equipped with three M134 7.62mm pintle-mounted Gatling-type machine guns. They are designed to host a combination of up to five crew members plus 20 fully equipped troops or six crew members in addition to eight troops for special operations ensuring maximum flexibility.
Additional features include armoured cockpit seats, ballistic protection for machine gun operators and critical systems; an integrated electronic warfare system offering self-protection against radar, laser and infrared threats; and an air-to-air refuelling kit for extended range operations.
For the Italian Air Force, the firm has customised the helicopter to meet the requirement for a medium-sized rotary wing aircraft. The aircraft is suitable for deployment in national operations outside borders (OFCN).
Image: The military variant of AgustaWestland's AW101 helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Finmeccanica.