Agusta A109A


Origin: Italy.

Type: Multirole light helicopter.

Engines: Two 420hp Allison 250-C20B turboshaft engines.

Dimensions: Diameter of four-blade main rotor 36ft 1in (11·0m); length of fuselage (without nose sensors or other adds-on) 35 ft 1·5in (10·706m); height overall 10ft 10in (3·3m); main rotor disc area 1,022·9sq ft (95·03m2).

Weights: Empty (basic) 3,232lb (1,466kg), (special, eg EW version) 4,199lb (1,905kg); max (all) 5,732lb (2,600kg).

Performance: Max cruising speed (max wt) 143mph (230km/h); hovering ceiling (max wt) 4,900ft (1,495m); range with max fuel 345 miles (556km).

Armament: See text.


Development: One of the most attractive of all helicopters, the A109A has a beautifully streamlined form, with fully retractable landing gear and the engines inside the upper rear fuselage. Over 300 have been ordered, with manufacture of the Mkll (which incorporates numerous, mostly minor, improvements) shared in part with the Hellenic Aerospace Industries, which in 1984-87 is making major fuselage parts for 77 of the helicopters.

       Almost all by 1984 had been of various basic civil versions, despite the fact that Agusta offer an extraordinary variety of military versions, which include: utility, for seven troops, or 2,000lb (907kg) cargo, or two strestchers and two seated passengers, with hoist; command/control, with target designation sensors and laser, and various attack weapons and special communications; light attack, with 12 different arrangements of machine guns as well as a range of rocket pods and other stores; anti-tank demonstrated with a nose TOW sight and eight TOW missiles, aerial scout with special observation and radio systems and machine guns and rockets; ESM/ECM, available in several forms with passive receiver and analyzer, and optional active jammers, dispensers and weapons; a very wide range of naval and coastal patrol versions which can carry search radar, or AM 10 missiles, or equipment for guiding ship-launched Otomat cruise missiles; a Mirach RPV platform carrying two drones for surveillance, ECM or other missions, retrieving them after use; and numerous police and SAR models with every kind of emergency equipment. In July 1984 the heavier 109K was announced, with 723hp Turboméca Arriels.


Below: This Italian Army Light Aviation A109A Mk II has a nose-mounted sight for use with the pairs of TOW anti-tank missile launchers carried each side of the fuselage.



Agusta A129 Mangusta


Origin: Italy.

Type: Anti-armour and scout helicopter.

Engines: Two 1,035hp Rolls-Royce Gem 2Mk 1004D turboshaft engines.

Dimensions: Diameter of four-blade main rotor 39ft 0·5in (11·9m); length of fuselage 40ft (3·27in) 12·275m); height overall 10ft 11·9in (3·35m); main rotor disc area 1,197sq ft (111·2m2).

Weights: Empty (equipped) 5,575lb (2,529kg); max 8,157lb (3,700kg).

Performance: Max speed (SL at 8,080lb, 3,600kg) 168mph (270km/h); cruising speed 155mph (250km/h); hovering ceiling 7,850ft (2,390m); endurance (anti-tank, no reserve) 2h 30min.

Armament: Four weapon Attachments, inners 661lb (300kg) rating, outers 441lb (200kg), all able to tilt +3° / - 12° from horizontal. Outers will normally carry two quad launchers of TOW missiles, with the option of HOT or Helfire as alternative various gun pods can be carried or up to 52 rockets of 70mm size in four launchers.


Development: The first dedicated battlefield anti-armour helicopter to be produced in Western Europe, the Mangusta (Mongoose) grew in power and capability during development, the 450hp Allison engines originally planned being replaced by ones of twice the power. The machine now flying has roughly the power of HueyCobras, and should in many ways be superiors, but it remains to be seen whether it will find wide acceptance in the face of this and other rivals, notably the far more expensive and much larger AH-64A Apache. Indeed, Agusta has even studied the latter machine’s 1,700hp T700 engines as a possible power unit for a further-uprated export version.

       Today’s A129 is a refined machine which from the start has naturally been planned for maximum effectiveness and lethality on the battlefield, with the greatest possible protection and resistance to hostile gunfire up to 23mm. Almost the only surprising feature is location of the TOW telescopic sight, with laser and FLIR, very low in the nose where the entire machine must be exposed in order to see the enemy. Agusta has worked with Martin Marietta on an MMS (mast-mounted sight).

       No requirement exists for a chinturret or other trainable guns, but the Italian army has called for a comprehensive EW installation including radar and laser warning receivers, IR jammer and chaft/flare dispenser. Equipment includes a PNVS as on the Apache, integrated helmet sight system, and an IMS (Integrated multiplex system) to centralize management of all subsystems.



Above: The Italian Army will have two or three 30-aircraft squadrons of the A129 Mangusta; a mast-mounted sight may be fitted.



Bell Huey and Grifon


Origin: USA.

Type: Multirole utility helicopter.

Engines: (204) One Avco Lycoming T53 turboshaft rated at 770, 825 or 930shp, or 1,250shp Rolls-Royce Gnome; (205) usually one T53-13B flat rated at 1,100shp; (212) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-3 twin turboshaft flat-rated at 1,250shp but with each engine section able in emergency to deliver 900shp; (412) PT6T-3B-1 flat rated at 1,308shp and with each engine able to supply 1,025shp in emergency.

Dimensions: Diameter of main rotor (two blades except 412) (240, UH-1B, -1C) 44ft 0in (13·41m), (205, 212) 48ft 0in (14·63m), (212 tracking tips) 48ft 2·3in (14·69m), (412, four blades) 46ft 0in (14·02m); overall length (rotors turning) (early) 53ft 0in (16·15m) (virtually all modern versions) 57ft 3·2in (17·46m), height overall (modern, typical) 14ft 4·8in (4·39m).

Weights: Empty (XH-40) about 4,000lb (1,814kg), (typical 205) 4,667lb (2,11kg), (typical 212) 5,549lb (2,517kg); maximum loaded (XH-40) 5,800lb (2,631kg), (typical 205) 9,500lb (4,309kg), (212/UH-1N) 10,500lb (4,762kg), (412) 11,500lb (5,121kg).

Performance: Maximum speed (all) typically 127mph (204km/h); econ cruise speed, usually same; max range with useful payload, typically 248 miles (400km).

Armament: See below.


Development: When Bell flew the prototype XH-40 in 1956 it was just a small machine for the US Army. Nobody could have foreseen that derived versions would be used by more air forces, and built in greater numbers, than any other military air-craft since World War II. Over 20 years the gross weight has been almost multiplied by three, though the size has changed only slightly.

       Early Model 204s, called Iroquois by the US Army, seated eight to ten, carried the occasional machine-gun, and included the TH-1L Seawolf trainer for the US Navy and the Italian-developed Agusta-Bell 204AS with radar and ASW sensors and torpedoes. The Model 205 (UH-1D, -1H etc) have more power and carry up to 15 passengers. Dornier built 352 for the W German Army, and similar versions are still in production at Agusta, Fuji and AIDC. Canada sponsored the twin-engined 212 (UH-1N, Canada CH-135), which again is made in Italy in an ASW version, with a new radar. AQS-13B variable-depth sonar and two torpedoes.



Above: The AB412 Grifon shows its capabilities in the assault troop transport role.


Many Hueys (called thus from the original “HU” designation, later changes to UH) carry guns, anti-tank missiles and night-flighting gear. The 412, with four-blade rotor, is licensed to Agusta and China. The improved AB412 Grifon is a multirole model; those for the Turkish navy will carry Bae Sea Skua anti-ship missiles.



Bell OH-58 Kiowa


Origin: USA.

Type: Light multirole helicopter.

Engine: One 317shp Allison T63-700 or 250-C18 turboshaft; (206B models) 420shp Allison 250-C20B or 400shp C20.

Dimensions: Diameter of two-blade main rotor 35ft 4in (10·77m), (206B) 33ft 4in (10·16m), (206L) 37ft 0in (11·28m); length overall (rotors turning) 40ft 11¾in (12·49m), (206B) 38ft 9½in (11·82m); height 9ft 6½in (2·91m).

Weights: Empty 1,464lb (664kg), (206B slightly less), (206L) 1,962lb (809kg), maximum loaded 3,000lb (1,361kg), (206B) 3,200lb (1,451kg), (206L) 4,000lb (1,814kg).

Performance: Economical cruise (Kigwa S/L) 117mph (188km/h), (206B 5,000ft, 1,525m) 138mph (222km/h). max range S/L no reserve with max useful load, 305 miles (490km), (206B and L) 345 miles (555km).

Armament: See text.


Development: In 1962 Bell’s OH-4A was a loser in the US Army’s LOH (light observation helicopter) competition. Bell accordingly marketed the same basic design as the Model 206 Jet-Ranger, this family growing to encompass the more powerful 206B and more capacious 206L LongRanger. In 1968 the US Army re-opened the LOH competition, naming Bell now winner and buying 2,200 OH-58A Kiowas similar to the 206A but with larger main rotor US navy trainers are TH-57A Sea Rangers. Canadian designation is CH-136 and Australian-assembled models for Army use are 206B standards. Agusta builds AB206B JetRanger Iis, many for military use (Sweden uses the HKP 6 with torpedoes) and the big-rotor AB206A-1 and B-1.

       Sales of all versions exceed 5,500, most being five-seaters (206L, seven) and US Army Kiowas having the XM27 kit with 7·62mm Minigun and various other weapons. Bell has rebuilt 272 US Army OH-58As to OH-58C standard with many changes including an angular canopy with flat glass panels, the T63-720 (C20B) engine with IR suppression, new avionics and instruments and a day optical system.

       Bell has produced a military version of the stretched 206L Long-Ranger known as TexasRanger. Able to seat seven, it can fly many missions but is marketed mainly in the attack role with uprated C30P engines, four TOW missiles, roof sight, FLIR (forward-looking infra-red) and laser range-flinder/designator.



Above: The proposed Model 406C Combat Scout incorporates many of the features of the AHIP 406.


       In 1981 Bell’s Model 406 was named winner of the US Army AHIP (Army Helicopter Improvement Program), for a near-term scout, with designation OH-58D. New features include the much more powerful engine, an MMS (mast-mounted sight) and completely new avionics and cockpit display, most of the latter by Sperry. The ball-type MMS contains a TV and a FLIR, and equipment includes inertial navigation, night vision goggles and an airborne-target handoff system.

       Two FIM-92 Stinger close-range AAMs will be packaged on the right side, and some $290 million is likely to be spent on updating the existing Kiowas with Stingers, and the basic plan is that 578 should be brought up to OH-58D standard by 1991. Of the five machines in the prototype programme, No 3 (flown 6 October 1983) was the first to have an operative MMS. Bell already has long-lead contracts for the first 12 OH-58Ds.


Below: Third and fourth prototypes of the US Army’s new OH-58D scout helicopter.

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