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Agusta A129 Mangusta

The Agusta A129 Mangusta (Mongoose) 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 A129 was developed to provide an anti-tank attack helicopter for the Italian Army. Design of the A129 began in 1978. The first of five A129 prototypes was first flown on 15 September 1983, and the fifth prototype first flew in March 1986.

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 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.

The 15-passenger AgustaWestland AW139 utility helicopter was designed around the transmission of the A129.

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.

Operational history

The Italian Army is the sole A129 operator and is equipped with 45 A129A and 15 A129CBT helicopters as of 2007. The first A129CBTs were delivered in October 2002. In January 2002, AgustaWestland was awarded a contract to upgrade the first 45 A129A version to the multi-role A129 CBT standard.

In Italian service, the Mangusta has successfully deployed with UN missions to Republic of Macedonia, Somalia and Angola. Three helicopters were deployed in Iraq before the Italian expedition's withdrawal.


Production models

* A129 Mangusta: Original production version, powered by two Rolls-Royce Gem 2 turboshafts.
* A129 International: Upgraded version with five-bladed rotor, nose turret, support for Hellfire and Stinger missiles, advanced avionics equipment and two LHTEC T800 turboshafts.
* A129 CBT(ComBaT): Upgraded version for the Italian army that incorporates the same advances as the A129 International version, but retains the original Gem turboshaft engines (although an uprated transmission system is fitted).
* T-129: (AugustaWestland AW729) Turkish attack helicopter based on the A129 International will be assembled in Turkey by TAI.

Proposed models

* A129 LBH: A multipurpose assault helicopter version with a structure completely different from the standard A129s, having space for carrying eight soldiers in addition to the two crew. (The abbreviation LBH stands for Light Battlefield Helicopter.)
* A129 Multi-Role Proposed version, not built.
* A129 Scout: Proposed reconnaissance version, not built.
* A129 Shipboard: Proposed naval version, not built.
* Tonal: Proposed derivative for Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and United Kingdom, with more powerful engines, a new rotor system, retractable landing gear, improved sensors, and more powerful armament. Cancelled in 1990.


* Italian Army - currently operates 60 A129s

Specifications (A129)

Source: Wikipedia