A129 Mangusta ("Mongoose")
The A129 Mangusta ("Mongoose") was developed as a variant of the A109 series of helicopters. Design of the A129 began in 1978. The first of five prototype A.129s flew on 11 September 1983, the development program jointly funded by the Italian army and Agusta. The A129 entered service with the Italian Army Aviation in 1990. The newly design aircraft proved to be larger and so different than its predecessor that the system was designated as the A129 and considered an entirely new helicopter.
Helicopters are an effective means to perform various combat and auxiliary missions, such as close air support of ground troops (including engagement of enemy armor), transport of troops, equipment and supplies, delivery of airborne assault forces, conduct of air reconnaissance, surveillance and communications, evacuation of wounded, and performance of auxiliary operations. Helicopters of various types have been developed for this purpose: helicopter gunships, multirole, reconnaissance, and assault-transport.
Helicopter gunships have the missions of close air support of ground troops (engagement of tanks and other battlefield targets), suppression of ground air defense weapons, particularly antiaircraft missile systems, escort of assault- transport helicopters, plus other tasks. Experience in employing multirole helicopters to accomplish these missions indicated that they failed to meet requirements. This led to the development of specialized helicopter gunships with improved specifications and performance characteristics, greater maneuverability and heavier firepower.
Helicopter-mounted machineguns and chain guns are universally common and are quite effective in air-to-ground and air-to-air missions. In 1986, France mounted the Mistral air-to-air missile on the Gazelle helicopter. Since then, this 5-km range air-superiority weapon was also mounted on the Dauphin Panther, the A129 Mangusta, the Ecureuil Fennec, the AH-64, the CSH-2 Rooivalk, and the Eurocopter Tiger. France has exported the Mistral to at least 17 countries. Of these, South Korea was known to be mounting the Mistral on its helicopters.
The A129 Mangusta [Mongoose], armed with anti-tank and area-suppression weapons systems, is intended primarily as an attack helicopter to be used against armored targets. The aircraft can operate during day, night, and all-weather conditions. The A129 Mangusta claims to be a proven 'hot climate' operator, as demonstrated during its peacekeeping operations. The A129 was succesfully employed in Somalia where it proved highly reliable and extremely flexible.
The A129 MANGUSTA was manufactured in Italy by the Agusta aircraft company. Agusta developed the A129 Mangusta anti-tank helicopter, the first attack helicopter to be designed and produced wholly in Europe, which demonstrated Agusta's capacity to satisfy the most complex technical requirements. Italy was the only country with this helicopter in its inventory, with the Italian Army.
The four-blade main rotor is mounted on the top center of the cabin, while weapon-carrying wings are short, stubby, and mid-mounted on the fuselage. The fuselage is slender and tapered to the rear, with fixed landing gear. The Italian Agusta A 129 Mangusta attack helicopter airframe is a mix of composites and aluminum. Some 900 lb of composite materials are used for the nosecone, canopy frame, tailboom, tail rotor pylon, engine nacelles, and the stabilizers, accounting for about 45% of the airframe weight. The tandem cockpit is glassed-in and flat-plated, and tapered from the cockpit to the blunted nose. The tail boom tapers to the rear, with a high, swept-back fin with square tip. The flats are unequally tapered with a square tip, while the belly fin has the rear landing wheel attached. The tail rotor is mounted on the left side.
Two turboshaft engines with semicircular air intakes are mounted alongside the top of the fuselage. The Rolls-Royce Gem 1004, the powerplant in the Agusta A129 attack helicopter, is derived from the Gem family of engines originally designed as military engines to meet British Ministry of Defence requirements. The Gem 1004 achieved type approval in 1986 and entered service with the Italian Army in 1989. It incorporates features to enhance the mission capability of attack helicopters in all phases: simple engine controls with automatic engine management, fast start-up, high power for fast transit, low specific fuel consumption for endurance, low signatures, fast engine response for agility, robust design and emergency rating for battlefield survivability, low fuel consumption for secure return and low maintenance.
Designed from the start as a truly integrated weapons system, Mangusta combines mission flexibility and performance with high survivability. Its advanced avionics and integrated multiplexing system (IMS) help to maximise its availability in all operating conditions. While the pilot and co-pilot/gunner integrated helmet and display provide perfect visibility, day or night, in all weathers. The Mangusta construction meets the most stringent requirements for crash-worthiness, low detectability, low vulnerability and NBC protection, ensuring high survivability. The high level of system integration, versatility, self-monitoring diagnostics made A 129 Mangusta one of the most cost effective combat helicopters.
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