The Italian air force has accepted its first Sikorsky HH-3F combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) helicopter to have undergone an extensive avionics upgrade at AgustaWestland’s Brindisi site in Italy.
Conducted under a multi-year contract, the modifications are to be applied to 15 Bravo standard HH-3Fs that are assigned to the air force’s 15th CSAR Wing at Pratica di Mare air base near Rome. The upgrade was initially to have been applied to 28 of the air force’s 35 HH-3Fs, but budget cuts have restricted this number.
AgustaWestland hopes to upgrade all 15 aircraft to the full CSAR configuration in the near future, with the project expected to extend the type’s operational utility until a replacement can be fielded in the 2010-15 timeframe. Several of Italy’s HH-3Fs now support Italian forces in Iraq.
The upgraded HH-3F has received GPS-based navigation and satellite communications, head-up displays, night-vision goggles (NVG) and NVG-compatible cockpit lighting, laser and radar warning receivers and new personnel location equipment.
PINO MODOLA / GENOA