Italian Air Force says goodbye to iconic HH-212A helicopter

Italian Air Force HH212 farewell
Italian Air Force HH-212A helicopters conduct their final flight as part of the phase-out ceremony at Grazzanise air base, southern Italy.

The Italian Air Force said farewell on Thursday to the HH-212A helicopter which retired after over 40 years of intense activity in Italy and abroad. Since its entry into service to date, the HH-212A has accumulated over 180,000 flight hours and has helped save hundreds of lives.

The ceremony was held at the Grazzanise air base, southern Italy, home of the 9th Wing "Francesco Baracca" and was attended by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Luca Goretti, as well as other military and civil authorities and the crews who have flown the iconic military helicopter over the years.

Italian Air Force HH212 farewell

Over these four decades, the Italian Air Force has deployed the HH-212A as part of various national missions, especially to provide support to populations affected by natural disasters, and abroad (Afghanistan).

The Commander of the 9th Wing, Colonel Salvatore Florio, recalled how the 212 guaranteed excellent reliability and allowed the crews that followed in the various generations to operate in all circumstances with timeliness, effectiveness and maximum safety. He also reminded his colleagues who, in peace and war, sacrificed their lives in carrying out their duties in compliance with the oath they took.

"The results obtained were achieved because they were based on solid foundations and the meticulous daily work of the crews." Col. Florio said. "This is perhaps the best wish we can give to those who will continue this difficult and silent work without interruption. We must always keep in mind what has been done to get here, but always remaining focused on the next objectives, only in this way can we reach future goals and overcome the challenges that the Air Force will ask us to face."

Italian Air Force HH212 farewell

General Goretti, during his speech, underlined the importance of the special event: "today we proudly salute a platform that has made the history of the Air Force, but above all the personnel who made this helicopter exceptional." Referring to all the crews who operated with this aircraft, he highlighted: "When there is a flood, an emergency, when someone needs to be rescued, even in bad weather, you are always there unconditionally, even putting your life at risk, because you are going to save someone else's life. And we do this because we are convinced that, when we need to save one of our colleagues or a fellow citizen, we intimately feel it as our duty and not because we are obliged by law." He then added: "The machines change, the people change, but the spirit remains: that winning spirit that distinguishes the Air Force and was demonstrated during the Centenary. Passion, strength, teamwork. Be proud of it."

The HH-212A is a medium helicopter with a two-bladed rotor powered by two 1,342 kW Pratt & Whitney PT6T turbines. It essentially derives from the 205 model from which it differs due to the elongated fuselage. The Italian Air Force purchased the first three examples in 1979 and a further 32 in 1984 to assign them to seven different squadrons. Following the ICO (Operational Capability Implementation) program, in 2006, the aircraft was deployed in Afghanistan with the 21st "Tiger" Group/9th Wing with reconnaissance tasks, personnel transport, medical transport, emergency medical evacuation urgency and control of the territory, reaching there over 2,000 flight hours in over 1,800 missions.

The "Phase-out" ceremony of the iconic HH-212A helicopter also represented a symbolic handover between the HH-212A and the new HH-101A, which will continue to provide support to special operations. The new state-of-the-art platforms will allow the Italian Air Force to always be ready to operate in modern operational scenarios to safeguard the country, national interests and protect citizens.

Italian Air Force HH212 farewell

Italian Air Force HH212 farewell

Italian Air Force HH212 farewell

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: Italian Air Force

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