AgustaWestland secures work for EH 101 assault transports and A129 upgrades

Italy's defence ministry has signed two long-awaited deals with AgustaWestland for the acquisition of four EH101s for the navy and the upgrade of the army's 45 Mangusta attack helicopters to A129CBT standard.

The €145 million ($129 million) navy contract takes its EH101 orders to 20. It has received six, which are being used for operational test and evaluation and crew training. The first 16 machines were ordered as anti-submarine/ anti-surface vessel warfare (eight), airborne early warning (four) and utility (four) machines, while the latest purchase is for amphibious support helicopters.

The latter will have upgraded avionics for night missions, including a night-vision goggle compatible cockpit, personnel locator systems, a weather radar in place of the search radar, a self-protection suite, and armour and machine guns. They will also be fitted for, but not equipped with, in-flight refuelling probes.

The navy has options on another four EH101s, but has not decided which variants to take.

The A129 contract is worth c260 million and will see the army's initial Mangustas upgraded to the CBT standard of the last 15 machines to be built, which are in the process of being delivered.

The upgraded machines will have a new five-blade main rotor, Rolls-Royce Gem 1004 engines, a strengthened transmission able to absorb 1,270kW (1,700shp) as opposed to the original 970kW, and a 4,600kg (1,320lb) gross weight.

The A129CBT also has a 20mm nose-mounted cannon and compatibility with RaytheonFim-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles and BGM-71 TOW-2A anti-armour weapons as well as 70mm and 81mm rockets.

New avionics include a second generation infrared vision system, an improved self-protection system and GPS satellite navigation. Deliveries are due from 2004.

South African engineering group Denel has secured a deal with Agusta, part of AgustaWestland, to licence produce and market Agusta's A109, A109 Power and A119 Koala light helicopters in South Africa. The deal is part of the South African Air Force's purchase of 30 A109 light utility helicopters.

Source: Flight International