Italy has received its first of 60 NH90 tactical transport helicopters, with the aircraft to be formally accepted into army service late next month at its Viterbo training centre.

Completed by NH Industries consortium member AgustaWestland, the aircraft received Italian type certification in late November, clearing the way for its formal handover on 30 December 2007.

 NH90 Italian army
© AgustaWestland

Equipped with a rear ramp, the transport can carry up to 20 troops or 12 stretchers, and is also configured with a forward-looking infrared sensor, obstacle warning system, a night vision goggle-compatible cockpit and a suite of self-protection equipment. Scheduled to enter frontline use with Italy's Friuli Airmobile Brigade in late 2009, the NH90 will replace some of its army's current Agusta-Bell AB205/212/412s.

The Italian navy is also to receive 56 NH90s in the type's naval frigate helicopter configuration, with these to replace its remaining AB212s.

Additional reporting by Luca Peruzzi in Genoa