On November 30, the first HH139B helicopter landed in Cervia, intended to complete and strengthen the helicopter fleet of the 15th Wing and its subordinate SAR Centers and Groups.
The helicopter was handed over on November 27 at the Leonardo plant in Vergiate (VA), following the successful conclusion of the testing and acceptance procedures conducted by the personnel of the Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness Department (DAAA), together with the men of the employee of the Territorial Technical Office of Milan (UTT) and the support of the Experimental Flight Department of the Air Force.
The delivery of the helicopters will be completed in 2021, with the delivery of 17 "B" version helicopters to the Flying Groups of Cervia and the Search and Rescue centers located on the national territory (80th C/SAR Center at Decimomannu; 82nd C/SAR Center at Trapani; 84th C / SAR Center of Gioia del Colle and 85th C/SAR Center of Pratica di Mare.
The new HH-139B version has some technical features that improve its operational capabilities, and therefore increase its flexibility in responding to emergencies and security needs.
In particular, the new version has been equipped with a double winch that increases the reliability of the system and safety during recovery operations and a "mission console" that allows better management of the on-board equipment for the purpose of searching for any missing persons.
In addition, the maximum take-off weight has been increased, from 6800kg to 7000kg, which allows a greater load capacity and finally it has been updated with the latest-generation avionics and on-board sensors (such as the AIS system - Automatic Identification System - which allows better interaction with vessels, and the OPLS - Obstacle Proximity LIDAR System - which favors identification and separation with elevated obstacles.
The 15 ° Stormo has the task of recovering crews in difficulty in peacetime (SAR - Search and rescue) and in times of crisis and in operations outside national borders (C / SAR - Combat SAR), to support special forces operations as well as to contribute in the event of serious disasters to activities of public utility such as the search for missing persons at sea or in the mountains, the emergency medical transport of patients in danger of life and the rescue of seriously injured persons, transport in bio-containment and, recently, also support for forest fire fighting activities.
The training level of the crews, the technological characteristics of the helicopters supplied as well as the use of special equipment and techniques, such as the use of night vision goggles, often make the 15 ° Stormo the only helicopter component capable of successfully managing situations more complex emergencies thanks, for example, to the ability to use during the day, at night and in marginal weather conditions.
Whenever a helicopter of the 15th Wing takes off it is either saving a human life, or training to do so. In fact, since its establishment until today, the crews of the 15th Wing have saved over 7200 people in life-threatening circumstances.