Italy's coast guard has finalised a contract for two AgustaWestland AW139s plus an option for a third helicopter in a customised Search and Rescue (SAR) configuration to supplement and later replace an existing fleet of nine Agusta-Bell 412HPs.

According to Capt Paolo Cafaro, head of the Italian coast guard airborne assets office, the helicopters will include an integrated mission system featuring an operator console managing the Telephonics RDR-1500B+ search radar in the long-nose radome, a FLIR Systems Star Safire electro-optical/infrared sensor, identification and maritime-air communications including SATCOM receiver in addition to rescue hoist, flotation equipment and fire-fighting device.

The standard crew comprises two pilots, one system operator and one winch operator. The first aircraft will be delivered at the end of 2009 or early 2010 and the second will follow later that year.

The coast guard's fixed wing fleet, including two Alenia Aeronautica ATR-42MPs and 6 Piaggio Aero Industries 166 DL3s, will be expanded in the near future with a third ATR-42MP to be delivered in 2010.