The Italian Navy will deploy its AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters to Afghanistan to replace older types for the first time this fall, a senior official said.
"From October, we will send three AW101 helicopters in troop transport configuration to Afghanistan for a one-year tour," said Vice Adm. Luigi Binelli Mantelli, commander in chief of the Italian navy fleet.
The helicopters will offer medevac and Special Forces support, added Binelli Mantelli.
Hitherto the Italian Navy has deployed AB212 helicopters to Afghanistan to rotate with Italian Air Force AB214s.
Separately, Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of AgustaWestland, has said he expects the contract signing for a first batch of AW101s destined for the Italian Air Force will take place in September 2010.
The Italian Air Force is planning to spend around 630 million euros on 12 AW101s, plus three options, for Combat Search and Rescue missions. The new helicopters will replace HH-3F helicopters.