The Royal Malaysian Navy Receives The First Two AW139 Leonardo Multipurpose Maritime Helicopters

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) is expected to receive three (3) new Maritime Operations Helicopter (MOH), which are planned to enter service between 2022 to 2024. The RMN signed a contract with Italian defense Leonardo last 20 September 2020. While no mention was made on the helicopter model to be delivered. The helicopters will be assigned with the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) to be used for utility roles.

RMN chief Admiral Reza Sany announced that the service has sign the contract to purchase three maritime operations helicopter (MOH) on September 20 last year. The first helicopter will be delivered on October 20, 2022; second on May 31, 2023 and the third on February 28, 2024. He did not named the helicopters contracted though it is likely to be the Leonardo AW139 as hinted previously. The Leonardo AW139 is a 15-seat medium-sized twin-engined helicopter developed and built by AgustaWestland (now part of Leonardo).

It is marketed at several different roles, including VIP/corporate transport, offshore transport, fire fighting, law enforcement, search and rescue, emergency medical service, disaster relief, and maritime patrol. In addition to AgustaWestland’s manufacturing facilities in Italy and the United States, the AW139 is produced in Russia by HeliVert. The AW139 was originally designed and developed jointly by Agusta and Bell Helicopters, being redesignated AW139 when Bell withdrew from the project. Since entering service in 2003, the AW139 has become one of AgustaWestland’s most influential products; it has been subsequently developed into the medium-lift military-orientated AW139.

The AW139 is a conventional twin-engine multi-role helicopter. It has a five-bladed fully articulated main rotor with a titanium hub and composite blades and a four-bladed articulated tail rotor. It is fitted with retractable tricycle landing gear, the two aft wheels retracting into external sponsons which are also used to house emergency equipment.[5] It is flown by a crew of two pilots, with up to 15 passengers accommodated in three rows of five. The AW139 had been aimed at a vacant niche in the market, sitting below larger types such as the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma and Sikorsky S-92, and above smaller ones like the Bell 412 and Eurocopter EC155.[5] Rotor & Wing has described the AW139’s flying attitude as ‘docile and predictable’.

The AW139 is powered by two FADEC-controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C turboshaft engines; the FADEC system seamlessly adjusts the engines for pilot convenience and passenger comfort, and can automatically handle a single-engine failure without noticeable deviation. More than a thousand customizable items of equipment can be configured per customer demand, including auxiliary fuel tanks, rescue hoists, cargo hooks, search and weather radar, ice protection systems, external cameras and searchlights, and seating arrangements. The AW139 cockpit is based on the modular Honeywell Primus EPIC avionics system incorporating a 4 LCD screen glass cockpit. According to Shipping & Marine, the AW139 has “the largest cabin in its class”; containing up to 15 passengers or four litters and accompanying medics.