Italian army obtained a total of 45 Agusta A-129 Mangusta lightweight attack helicopters

Conceived in response to an Italian Army requirement of the mid-1970s, the A-129 Mangusta (mongoose) was the first dedicated attack helicopter to be designed, built and deployed by a European country.

It was also the first in the world to be built around an advanced MIL-STD 1553B digital databus, which allowed a high degree of automation, considerably reducing the crew workload. The first A-129 prototype made its official maiden flight on 15 September 1983 at Cascina Costa (although it had already taken to the air twice before on 11 and 13 September).

The original Italian requirement had been for 100 Mangustas in distinct anti-tank and scout versions, but as the threat of all-out ωɑɾ in Europe receded, the final order was cut back to 60 A-129s. In the event, a total of 45 A-129s were delivered to Aviazone Escercito (Italian army aviation) between 1990 and 1992, when production was stopped. Official Italian army designation of this helicopter is AH-129.

The Italian A-129 is significantly less capable than a contemporary US AH-64 Apache, AH-1W Super Cobra, or Russian Ka-50 or Mi-28 attack helicopters. It looses to these helicopters in all key areas, including firepower, survivability, speed and range. In fact the Mangusta is one of the least capable gunships, that are currently in service.


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