A129 Mangusta ("Mongoose") - Variants
Agusta, Fokker, and Westland established a new joint European helicopter company in Italy in September 1986, to undertake development of the Tonal, named after the Aztec Warrior God. CASA joined the study group before the end of 1986. Agusta and Westland each had a 38 percent share, while Fokker takes 19 percent and CASA 5 percent. A two-year technical feasibility and cost study began in June 1987. Based on the A.129 airframe and systems, the Tonal was to be a multirole helicopter combining the anti-tank, anti-helicopter, and armed scout roles. Options for study included the use of third generation Trigat anti-tank missiles and one RTM.332 engine in place of the twin Gems of the A.129. Tonal was to be designed to meet the requirements of the partner countries and export customers. A total market for more than 400 aircraft had been identified, and production deliveries were planned to begin in 1997.
A139 Light Battlefield Helicopter
Proposed developments included a naval version, featuring a nose-mounted radar and anti-ship missiles: and an A.139 light battlefield helicopter, combining the A.129's engines, transmission and under-carriage with a new fuselage providing accommodation for eight troops. Italian participation in the 37th International Aeronautics and Space Show at Le Bourget was, as usual, significant, with a total of 40 public- and private-sector firms. This year again, the Mangusta stole the show, both as the founder of a family of machines and because of the political and industrial implications stemming from it. The utility version of this machine (LBH) configured for tactical support, the naval version, and the "Tonal" combat helicopter were all derived from the A-129 basic version.
The A129 International, developed from A129 Mangusta, responds to the requirements of today's armed forces for a multi-role combat helicopter that combines high performance and survivability with low support costs. The prototype of the new A.129 International flew for the first time in 1995. The Mangusta, already in service with the Italian army, was upgraded to offer improved performance; weapons choice and payload; and avionics. The new helicopter was not among the favorites in the UK and Dutch competitions, but Agusta hoped that the improved International would fare better in new contests in Australia, India, Sweden, the Middle East and other places [it did not.
The original Rolls-Royce Gem 1004 turboshafts were replaced with LHTEC T800s, which provided 30-40% more power over the operational range of the engines. The gearbox capacity wes increased, from 970kW (1,300shp) , to l,340kW. A new five-bladed rotor was fitted to replace the Mangusta's four-bladed system. The changes resulted in gross-weight increase from 4 tons for the Mangusta to 5t for the International. The new helicopter's top speed rose to more than 150kt (280km/h), compared to 135kt for the Mangusta, while the rate of climb rose to more than 2,360ft/min (12m/s), against 2,000ft/min for the Mangusta. Avionics upgrades included a new forward-looking infra-red system, as well as a charge-coupled device television. The International was equipped with a three-barrelled M-197 20mm cannon mounted in a Martin Marietta/GIAT compact turret (the Mangusta had no built in gun-armament) and can carry TOW and Hellfire anti-tank guided weapons, 70mm- and 81mm-unguided rockets and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
The Italian army took delivery of 30 Mangustas in 1995, with an additional 30 still to be delivered. The service signed a contract to upgrade 15 Mangustas with the International variant's gun turret and Stinger capability. Further upgrades, using the other improvements, were planned.
A129 Combat (CBT)
In 1999 the Italian Army awarded a contract to Agusta, an AgustaWestland company, for the production of the last batch of 15 A129s in the new Combat (CBT) configuration, to meet the Italian Army's new requirements as dictated by the new international scenarios. The new A129 CBT includes a 20mm gun turret, Stinger air-to-air missiles, avionics and airframe upgrades including a five blade main rotor and increased mission weight. The A129 was originally designed to comply with the requirements set by the Italian MoD for day/night, all weather anti-tank and scout roles, with a built-in growth capability for further weapons and systems development. The Italian Army awarded a contract to Agusta to also retrofit the other 45 A129s in service to the CBT configuration. All the A129s were assembled and upgraded at Vergiate plant in Italy.
AW129 Multirole Combat Helicopter
Over the years, the A129 was upgraded with new engines, rotors and the ability to mount a wider range of weapons. An escort/scout version of the Mangusta was developed for deployment with airmobile units. The ship would also be armed for air-to-air combat. The AW129 Multirole Combat Helicopter was the upgraded variant of the A129 Magusta.
The Italian Army is equipped with 60 A129 Mangusta helicopters and 15 AW129 CBT (combat configuration). In January 2002, AgustaWestland was awarded a contract to upgrade the first 45 to the multirole standard. The upgrade included: five-blade composite main rotor and two-blade tail rotor, Rolls-Royce Gem 1004 engines, new stronger transmission with a torque of 1,700shp, strengthened fuselage giving an increase in take-off weight to 4,600kg, improved weapons systems including Oto Melara 197B 20mm nose-mounted cannon and the Stinger air-to-air missiles, new FLIR (forward-looking infrared) system, improved countermeasures suite including EADS AN / AAR-60 missile launch detector and new global positioning / inertial navigation (GPS / INS) system. Deliveries concluded in July 2008.
The T129 is a formidable, new, highly powerful and capable all-weather day and night multi-role attack helicopter which is being developed in cooperation by AgustaWestland, Aselsan and TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries) for Turkey and other export markets. It is based upon the AW129 and its predecessor, the battle-proven A129 Mangusta platform. 1200kg Weapon payload, excellent performance for ‘hot and high’ conditions, 300nm range and endurance of up to 3 hours are enabled by state-of-the-art LHTEC-T800 engines, making the T129 a critical multi-role resource for attack, reconnaissance and deterrent operations. Low signature and agility ensure maximum stealth, and a significant weapons payload enable the T129 to operate in the most hostile of battlefield environments as well as in confined areas typical of current military scenarios.
Latest technology features and Integrated Aircraft Survivability Equipment, delivers vital mission capabilities and survivability tools. The Integrated mission equipment package includes an advanced Targeting and Sight System (FLIR, CCTV, laser designator), Helmet Mounted Sight and Display, secure communication, precise navigation equipment and Data Link. High survivability enhanced by ballistic tolerance and crashworthiness is a fundamental design feature. The T129 benefits from the high field supportability necessary for an aircraft needing to operate in remote areas with the minimum logistical support.
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