HomeNewsAviationThe Italian Air Force bids farewell to the HH-212

The Italian Air Force bids farewell to the HH-212

The phase out ceremony took place on the military airport of Grazzanise (CE), home of the 9th Wing “Francesco Baracca”.

The “phase-out” ceremony of the HH-212A helicopter, which after over 40 years of activity in numerous missions outside national borders and in the national field, ended its operational life in the Air Force. Having entered service in the early 1980s, the iconic helicopter ended its operational life yesterday after having flown for over 180 thousand hours and having contributed to the rescue of hundreds of people in danger of their lives.

The ceremony was presided over by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Air Squadron General Luca Goretti, and saw the participation of the Commander of the SA General Air Squadron Alberto Biavati, the Commander of the 1st Special Operations Air Brigade, Brigadier General Riccardo Rinaldi, the Commander of the 9th Wing, Colonel Salvatore Florio, and local civil, military and religious authorities, as well as the Wing staff and the flight crews and specialist personnel who have operated on this iconic military helicopter over the years.

Over the course of these four decades, the helicopter has been the protagonist, together with the Air Force crews, in numerous operational missions beyond national borders (Afghanistan) and in the national field, participating in search and rescue missions in particular events that have affected the civilian population, such as the floods in Piedmont, that of Sarno and that in Friuli or even following the earthquake that hit the island of Ischia. 

“Years in which the structure of the AM guaranteed excellent reliability and allowed the crews who succeeded over the various generations to operate in all circumstances with timeliness, effectiveness and maximum safety.” I dedicate a thought to colleagues and friends who, in peace and in war, have sacrificed their existence in the exercise of our profession, in service, in compliance with the oath taken. The results obtained were achieved because they were based on solid foundations and on the meticulousness, in unison, of the daily gestures of its crews.  This is perhaps the best wish we can give to those who will continue this difficult and silent work without interruption. Only by always keeping in mind what has been done to get here, but always remaining focused on the next objectives, could we reach future goals and overcome the challenges that our Armed Force will ask us to face.”

Commander of the 9th Wing, Colonel Salvatore Florio

“Today we proudly salute a machine that made the history of the Air Force, but above all the personnel who made this helicopter exceptional.  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, as the Armed Forces because we are convinced that, when we need to save one of our colleagues or fellow citizens, we intimately feel it as our duty and not because we are obliged by law.  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 .”

Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Air Squadron General Luca Goretti

The HH-212A is a medium helicopter with a two-bladed rotor powered by two 1,342 kW Pratt & Whitney PT6T turbines. It is essentially derived from the 205 model from which it differs due to its elongated fuselage. The Air Force purchased the first three examples in 1979 for the Decimomannu range (Cagliari), where they were included in the 670th Squadron of the Aerial Shooting Standardization and Testing Department. In 1984, 32 examples were ordered, destined for the new rescue sections of the 603rd (Villafranca), 604th (Grosseto), 609th (Grazzanise), 632nd (Brindisi), 651st (Istrana), 653rd (Linate), 660th (Amendola) connections squadrons. Following the ICO program (Implementation of Operational Capability), in 2006, the unit operated in Afghanistan with the 21st “Tiger” Group of the 9th Wing with reconnaissance tasks, personnel transport, medical transport, medical evacuation urgency and control of the territory, totaling over 2,000 flight hours in over 1,800 missions in Afghan territory.

The “Phase-out” ceremony of the historic HH-212A helicopter, in addition to having a commemorative connotation, also represents a symbolic handover between the HH-212A and the new HH-101A, which will continue to provide support to operations special. New machines with new technologies for an Air Force always ready to operate in modern operational scenarios to defend the country, national interests and protect the community.

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