AW-139 | Search and Rescue 24/7/365 for Cyprus – Interview with Leonardo’s representative at DEFEA 2023
Defence Redefined
Published on 18/05/2023 at 19:15

*Nassos Kolovos

The Italian-made Agusta Westland 139 helicopter has been in service with the National Guard and the Cyprus Police Aviation Unit since 2010.

Specifically, the National Guard has 3 helicopters of this type, and the Cyprus Police Aviation Unit has another 2.

The DEFENCE ReDEFiNED team had the opportunity to see the helicopter in question and learn more about its capabilities during the Defence and Security exhibition DEFEA 2023, which took place in Athens between May 9-11, 2023.

The helicopter was presented to us by Leonardo’s representative, Mr. Roberto Caprarella.

According to Mr. Caprarella, Leonardo’s choice to participate in this year’s DEFEA with the helicopter in question is based on the procurement program for new search-rescue (SAR) and combat search-rescue (CSAR) helicopters from the Hellenic Armed Forces.

Leonardo considers the SAR configuration of the Agusta Westland 139 helicopters to be ideal for the operational requirements of the Hellenic Armed Forces regarding search and rescue, as it is a proven solution. In particular, the helicopter in question has been offering services in the Mediterranean for the last 20 years, being in service with the fleets of Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Croatia, Spain, and Malta.

According to the company’s representative, the system in question is superior to its competitors, since it incorporates a number of innovations.

In particular, the helicopter features advanced avionics architecture, as it has a glass cockpit with four large Liquid Crystal Displays, a 3D Smart View System, an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), a digital autopilot, and a Collision Avoidance System (CAS). Furthermore, the AW139 helicopter has the capability to operate in demanding weather conditions, both day and night.

An advantage is the design of the open architecture of the system, since each user can equip it according to the requirements of the mission. In fact, the company offers a comprehensive package of customer support and training.

Particularly, the capability of training both in a flight simulator and in a full-scale aircraft is offered, while a combined virtual environment training system is currently being developed, where different crews will be networked virtually performing various tasks.

Also, the system stands out for its ease of maintenance, which is confirmed by its high availability.

The greatest advantage of the helicopter, however, is the certified (run-dry) capability to operate for up to 60 minutes despite any loss of oil in the main gearbox (MGB), that is, 30 minutes longer than any other certified helicopter of the same category. Thus, combined with the existence of a two-engine powerpack, the AW139 sets new safety standards and increased airworthiness.

Of equal importance is the element of the internal layout, which offers an abundant working room, which can be configured in various ways, either as an accommodation area for a fully integrated mission console or as a medical treatment and casualty evacuation area.

Also read: US Air Force | Fielding Recommendation for Leonardo’s BriteCloud 218 to the National Guard

Technical features of the AW139 include:

  • Maximum cruise speed: 306 km/h
  • HIGE value (Hovering In Ground Effect): 4,682 meters
  • HOGE (Hovering Out of Ground Effect) value: 2,478 meters
  • Maximum operational range: 1,061 km
  • Endurance: 5 hours
  • Personnel transport capacity: Up to 15 passengers
  • Maximum Gross weight: 6,400 kg
  • Propulsion: 2 x Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67C Turboshafts gas turbines
  • Length: 16.66 meters
  • Height: 4.98 meters
  • Rotor diameter: 13.8 meters

To date, the AW139 has recorded orders for more than 1,250 units from more than 290 customers in more than 80 countries, logged more than 3.3 million flight hours, and is a reference platform, mainly replacing UH-1H Huey helicopters, which Greece wishes to withdraw in the immediate future.

Also read: Leonardo | SonAir orders two AW139 helicopters for Angola

Its use in Cyprus

460th Search Rescue Squadron – National Guard

The 460 Search & Rescue Squadron was formed on 25 May 2010 after the Republic of Cyprus assumed sole responsibility for the Search and Rescue mission.

The Squadron has a total of four (4) types of aircraft. The BN-2B Islander and PC-9 Pilatus airplanes which were originally received from the 450th Attack Helicopter Squadron and the two (2) Bell 206 L3 Long Ranger helicopters which were integrated into the Squadron after the dissolution of the 449 Anti-Tank Helicopter Squadron.

From December 2010 until July 2011, three (3) AW139 helicopters were received and joined the 460th Search and Rescue Squadron.

Also read: The Minister of Foreign Affairs travels to Israel by an AW139 Air Force helicopter

The helicopters in question have been operating continuously on the aethers of the Republic of Cyprus but also abroad (participating in multinational exercises) for the last 13 years. Among other things, helicopters are also used for CSAR operations, but also for the transport of officials (VIPs).

Air Operations Unit of the Cyprus Police

The Air Operations Unit of the Cyprus Police received two AW139 helicopters in late 2010. These increased the operational capabilities of the Cyprus Police to meet the ever-increasing demands as well as to fulfill the Republic’s obligations to International Organizations in missions such as Search and Rescue, Illegal Immigration, etc.

Finally, Leonardo also offers the armed version of the AW139, the AW139M which can be used for various missions such as battlefield support and armed escort, fitted with machine guns up to 12.7 mm caliber and 70 mm rocket launchers mounted on external hardpoints.

Also read: LEONARDO | Kronos air defence radar joins NATO training range in Greece




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