The Italian Air Force has unveiled its new AgustaWestland-built HH-101A special operations helicopter at its Cervia air base, near Venice.

The new helicopter is has been named Caesar. It is the first of 20 AW101s that Italy has ordered together with options for an additional four aircraft intended for personnel recovery and special forces missions.

Caesar is the military variant of AgustaWestland’s AW101 helicopter. It is designed to perform a range of missions, including air support to special operations (SAOS), personnel recovery (PR) and search and rescue (SAR).

Moreover, it offers the additional capability of slow mover interceptor (SMI).

"The new helicopter is the first of 20 AW101s that Italy had ordered."

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).

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.

In March 2014, AgustaWestland completed the maiden test flight of Caesar at its Yeovil facility in the UK.

Image: AgustaWestland’s AW101 helicopter. Photo: courtesy of AgustaWestland.