[AR] A-109A Hirundo

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Story of the A109:

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By the late 60’s, Agusta sought to develop an indigenous rotorcraft for commercial applications.
The decision for it to be a twin engine rotorcraft was taken by 1969 after the team at Agusta recognized the shift in the market towards this type of rotorcraft.
At the same time the team already thought about a militarized variant of the helicopter and it was internally designated A109B but this was developed at a slower pace as it was seen as a sideproject.
On the fourth of August of 1971, the first of three prototypes made its maiden flight.
In 1975 the first production A109 rolled out the factory and shortly after, in 1976, the civil customers received the first production batch.
The militarized version started ramping up its design phase in 1975 and by 1976 trials with TOWs ATGM were carried out on five different prototypes, these tests were concluded in 1977.

Nowadays the rotorcraft proved to be a huge success and dozens of versions were developed during the years.

A109A Hirundo in argentinian service:

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Argentina was following the A109 program by the start and in 1978 placed an order for 9 A109, these were delivered through 1979.
The helicopters were given the serials AE-331 to AE-339, they were based at Campo de Mayo and placed under the 601st Combat Aviation Batallion.
During the Malvinas campaign the Ejercito lost the AE-337 to a Sea Harrier and other twos were captured and sent back to England(AE-331 and AE-334).
This left Argentina with less A109 at their disposal and no way to acquire new helicopters nor parts to refurbish and repair their fleet.
As the time went on less and less helicopters were mantained in service and when the thought of refurbish and modernize them almost came to fruition, the funds weren’t allocated.

A109A indigenous modifications:

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The Armed Forces Science and Technical Research Istitute was called upon to arm the italian machine.
To meet the request, the helicopter was fitted with a removable support that hosts 4 hard points while an unknown aiming sight is believed to have been added to the pilot’s position.
The helicopter mostly mounted FN Herstal 7.62mm machine gun pods and 70mm rocket launchers(XM-157 and XM-158) but the most interesting armament were others:
the locally-produced rocket pod Gallo (Rooster), firing an Argentine version of the Mk.40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket, the Albatros.
In late 70s the most interesting program took place, the integration of four indigenous Mathogo ATGM.
In the 80s the helicopter was armed with the Yaguareté and Microbio rocket pods, firing the indigenous Pampero 105mm rocket.

Technical Data:

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Length: 11.448 m

Height: 3.50 m

Empty weight: 1,590 kg

Max takeoff weight: 2,850 kg

Powerplant: 2 × Allison 250-C20-B 420SHP

Performance

Maximum speed: 311 km/h

Cruise speed: 285 km/h

Never exceed speed: 311 km/h

Rate of climb: 9.8 m/s
Armament:
7.62mm gun pods SF.260W MAG or FN Herstal
70mm rocket pods XM-157/XM-158/Gallo
105mm rocket pods shooting Pampero rockets, Mircrobio or Yaguareté
4xMathogo ATGM(3km version)
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Photos:

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AE-336_Pampero.jpg
^Yaguareté rocket pods
IMG_0135.jpg?width=718&height=448
^Mathogo ATGM
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^machine gun SF-260W MAG 7.62 mm and Microbio rocket pod

Sources:

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Agusta 109 in Argentine military service – Gaceta Aeronautica (English)
Roll Out - Aerospotter: Golondrinas del Ejército
(ATW) Norris, John. Anti-tank weapons, London: Brasseys, 1996.
Jane’s Air Launched Weapons 78’

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+1 yes for italy

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