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A129 Mangusta

The Agusta A129 Mangusta is an attack helicopter originally designed and produced by Agusta in Italy.  It was the first attack helicopter to be designed and produced wholly in Western Europe.

 The TAI/AgustaWestland T-129 ATAK is an enhanced version of the A129, and its development is now the responsibility of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), with AgustaWestland as the primary partner. 

 

Development and design

The Italian Army began to form a need for a light observation and anti-tank helicopter in 1972. West Germany had a similar need.  The nations' requirements led to a joint project between the Italian company Agusta and West Germany company MBB.  However the joint effort ended after preliminary work.  Agusta initially studied an A109 -based design, but moved to new design. The company began design work on the A129 in 1978. The first of five A129 prototypes took the type's maiden flight on 11 September 1983, and the fifth prototype first flew in March 1986.  Italy ordered 60 A129s.

 In 1986, the governments of Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate an improved version of the A129, called the Joint European Helicopter Tonal.  ("Tonal" was derived from the name of an Aztec deity.) The Tonal was to have more powerful engines, a new rotor system, retractable landing gear, improved sensors and more powerful armament.  However, the project collapsed in 1990 when Britain and the Netherlands decided to obtain the AH-64 Apache instead.  Spain has since acquired the Eurocopter Tiger.  An export version, the A129 International (A129I), is a lower-cost helicopter with added firepower and upgraded avionics.  In September 2007, the A129I was redesignated the AW129.

The A129 can be used in the anti-armour, armed reconnaissance, ground attack, escort, fire support and anti-aircraft roles.  In the anti-armour role, the helicopter can carry either Hellfire, TOW or Spike-ER missiles, or a mix of them.  The A129 can also be equipped with 81 mm or 70 mm (2.75 in) unguided rockets and has a M197 three-barrel 20 mm cannon in a turret mounted under its nose.  For the anti-aircraft role, Stinger or Mistral missiles can be carried.

The A129 is equipped with autonomous navigation and night vision systems in order to provide both day/night and all-weather combat capabilities.

In the Australian Army's AIR 87 project to acquire Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters, the Agusta A129, the AH-64 Apache, and the Eurocopter Tiger were short-listed from the six original tenders.  In December 2001 it was announced that the contract was awarded to the Eurocopter Tiger.

 

General characteristics

Crew: 2: pilot and weapon systems officer

Length: 12.28 m (40 ft 3 in)

Rotor diameter: 11.90 m (39 ft 1 in)

Height: 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)

Disc area: 111.22 m² (1,197.25 ft²)

Empty weight : 2,530 kg (5,575 lb)

Max. takeoff weight : 4,600 kg (10,140 lb)

Powerplant : 2 × Rolls-Royce Gem 2-1004D (license built by Piaggio) turboshafts , 664 kW (890 shp) each

Rotor systems : 4 blades on main rotor

 

Performance

Maximum speed : 278 km/h (148 knots, 170 mph)

Cruise speed : 229 km/h (135 knots, 155 mph)

Range : 510 km (275 nm, 320 mi)

Ferry range : 1,000 km (540 nm, 620 mi)

Service ceiling : 4,725 m (15,500 ft)

Rate of climb : 10.2 m/s (2,025 ft/min)

 

Armament

Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M197 three-barrel gatling-type cannon (500 rounds) in a TM197B Light Turreted Gun System(only CBT version)

Rockets: 4 pods with

 38× 81 mm (3.19 in) unguided rockets or

 76× 70 mm (2.75 in) unguided rockets or

 12.7 mm machine gun-pod

Missiles:

 8× AGM-114 Hellfire or BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles

 4-8× AIM-92 Stinger or Mistral anti-aircraft missiles