The "MH" (that’s what it’s called) helicopter delivered to the Italian Navy in January is a variant of the NH-90, the famous medium/heavy four-bladed twin-turbine multi-role helicopter, developed and manufactured by the NH Industries consortium (owned by key industry players such as Leonardo Helicopters and Airbus Helicopters).
The NH-90 is a modern model, used by the armed forces of about 10 nations, and is the first to introduce on board the "fly-by-wire" system, i.e. a digital electronic control system which replaces the conventional direct flight controls.
Specifically designed to support the amphibious operations of the San Marco Marine Brigade and Special Forces, the MH-90 version can also benefit from other optionals: automatic folding of main rotor and tail pylon blades, undercarriage and rotors optimized for use on board Naval Squadron Units, and on land, such as the rear ramp and mission equipment. In addition to the "fly-by-wire" system, the FLIR helmet-mounted display of infrared imagery makes it particularly suitable for tactical flight at very low altitude and enhances maneuverability.
Avio Aero took part in the helicopter delivery with Leonardo Helicopters, operationally supporting the testing and acceptance as well as providing, on request, technical-logistic support at the 5th Helicopter Group based in Luni Sarzana (a few km south of La Spezia, Northern Italy).
Only the first of the MH90 helicopter fleet was delivered; others will follow and for each we will supply engines of the GE T700/T6E1 family assembled in the Brindisi plant (where the T700/T6E1 engines for the UH90s of the Italian Army are also assembled), obviously together with the maintenance and support services at the request of the Navy.
MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) services which we usually provide for the engines of the State Police and many other national bodies, and for the Italian Army with the land operations versions of the same helicopter, at the same bases in Italy or possibly in the field.
The helicopter Service specialists in Brindisi, Claudio Stefanelli, Sante Tarì and Saverio Torzillo, are therefore working to hand over ownership of the aircraft to the Defense Administration: “Leonardo Helicopters will deliver between 8 and 9 helicopters a year and, after being test flown by Leonardo, each will undergo the acceptance phase at the ARMAEREO (Air Armaments) Testing Commission and with crews of the Italian Army and Navy, counting on our support,” explained Claudio Stefanelli, Technical Support Specialist at Brindisi.
Another helicopter fleet, intended for more delicate defense and rescue operations, is ready for our experts to fly in Italy and elsewhere.