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Agusta 109A (AE-331)

Agusta 109A (AE-331)

Falklands War History

In early April 1982 AE-331 was assigned to the Argentinean army’s Batallon De Aviacion De Combate 601 Ejercito, known as CAB601.  This was a mixed helicopter unit based near the Argentinean capital, Buenos Aires.  After the invasion of the Falkland Islands AE-331 had been flown to Port Stanley by 10th April 1982 and was used throughout the conflict.  109s were heavily armed and highly manoeuvrable giving reliable service as gunships/transports.  They flew escort protection missions for other Argentinean helicopters as well as general cargo missions.

Of the three Agusta 109As that served in the Falklands, one was destroyed by Sea Harriers on the ground during an Argentinean helicopter mission.  Both remaining 109As were captured by 846 Naval Air Squadron at Stanley racecourse on the 14th June 1982.  Short test flights confirmed their serviceability and then flown onto HMS Fearless in San Carlos Water for transport back to the UK.

 

The 109A (AE-331) is a military version of the Italian built Agusta 109 Hirundo (Swallow), having an additional ventral fin, structural strengthening and mounting points for external weapons.  It was captured by 846 Naval Air Squadron during the Falklands Conflict.  It entered the Fleet Air Arm Museum’s core collection in 2009.

Statistics

Type: Light general purpose helicopter

Crew: 1 or 2 pilots

Length: 35ft 1.75ins

Rotor Diameter: 11 metres (36ft 1in)

Engine: 2 Allison 250-C20b turbo shafts

Speed: 193mph

Dates Service: 1982 – 2009 (UK Forces)


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