The Vigili del Fuoco – Italy’s National Fire Corps, part of the Ministry of the Interior – has received its two more AW139 helicopters, manufacturer Leonardo announced today. The new helicopters will be used for search and medical rescue, firefighting and disaster relief. Eventually, it is planned to operate AW139s from different bases around the country.
Within the next two years it is planned that the current Vigili del Fuoco AB412 fleet will be entirely replaced, and introduction of the AW139 provides commonality with the Italian Air Force, Guardia di Finanza, State Police, Coast Guard and other emergency medical service (EMS) operators.
The intermediate twin-engine helicopters feature latest-generation avionics and sensors and firefighting and rescue equipment for operations in all conditions.
The handover event was celebrated during an official ceremony held at Leonardo’s Vergiate facility in the presence of government representatives and local authorities.
The Vigili del Fuoco received its first two AW139s in 2011 and these entered service with the Provincia Autonoma di Trento.
In December 2018 Leonardo announced that in a move to enhance its emergency multi-role airborne capabilities to more effectively counter the ever increasing risks of firefighting duties, the Vigili del Fuoco had signed a contract for the supply of three more AW139s. The order, valued at around €45m, also includes integrated logistic support and training for pilots and technicians, and an option for 12 additional helicopters. Deliveries of all three new aircraft are expected be completed this year.
According to AirForces Intelligence data, the Vigili del Fuoco currently operates ten AB412s introduced from 1984, including five former Corpo Forestale (Forestry Corps) examples added to the fleet in 2017. There are also four AB412SP models that entered service from 1988, including three former Corpo Forestale examples acquired in 2017. Finally, 18 AB412EP versions were introduced from 2003 and include five four former Corpo Forestale examples added in 2017.