MH-68A Stingray helicopter: Aircraft profile
The MH-68A is the U.S. Coast Guard's version of the Agusta A109E "Power" commercial aircraft. The AgustaWestland AW109 (formerly A109) is a helicopter manufactured by Agusta (now AgustaWestland) of Italy. It is a light-weight, twin engine, eight seat multi-purpose helicopter.
Design and development
In the late 1960s Agusta designed the A109 as a single-engined commercial helicopter. It was soon realised that a twin-engined design was needed and it was re-designed in 1969 with two Allison 250-C14 turboshaft engines. A projected military version (the A109B) was not developed and the company concentrated on the eight-seat version the A109C.
The first of three prototypes first flew on the 4 August 1971. A long protracted development then followed and the first production aircraft was not completed until April 1975.
Delivery of production machines started in early 1976. The aircraft soon became a success and was soon used for roles other than as a light transport including as an air ambulance and search-and-rescue.
In 1975 Agusta returned again to the possibility of a military version and trials were carried out between 1976 and 1977 with five A109As fitted with Hughes Aircraft TOW missiles. Two military versions were then developed, one for light attack or close support and another for naval operations.
The helicopter is notable for having retractable landing gear, unlike many other similar aircraft.
Fuselages of A109 are made by PZL Świdnik. In June 2006 the 500th fuselage was delivered by this manufacturer, marking 10 years of successful co-operation between the two companies.
The sale of the Agusta A109 to the Belgian armed forces in 1988 gave rise to a bribery scandal when it was revealed the company had given the Belgian Socialists over 50 million francs to get the sale. This scandal led to the resignation and conviction of NATO Secretary General Willy Claes.
* A109A: The first production model, powered by two Rolls-Royce Model 250-C20 turboshaft engines. It made its first flight on 4 August 1971. Initially, the A109 was marketed under the name of "Hirundo" (Latin for the swallow bird) but this was dropped within a few years.
o A109A EOA: Military version for the Italian Army.
o A109A Mk II: Upgraded civilian version of the A109A.
o A109A Mk.II MAX: Aeromedical evacuation version based on A109A Mk.II with extra wide cabin and access doors hinged top and bottom, rather than to one side
* A109B: Unbuilt military version.
* A109C: Eight-seat civil version, powered by two Rolls-Royce Model 250-C20R-1 turboshaft engines.
o A109C MAX: Aeromedical evacuation version based on A109C with extra wide cabin and access doors hinged top and bottom, rather than to one side
* A109D: One prototype only
* AW109E Power: Upgraded civilian version, initially powered by two Turbomeca Arrius 2K1 engines . Later the manufacturer introduced an option for two Pratt & Whitney PW206C engines to be used - both versions remain known as the A109E Power
o A109E Power Elite: stretched cabin version of A109E Power. This variant, which is operated by the RAF, has a glass cockpit with two complete sets of pilot instruments and navigation systems, including a three-axis autopilot, an auto-coupled Instrument Landing System and a satellite-based Global Positioning System. There is also a Moving Map Display, weather radar and a Traffic Alerting System.
o A109LUH: Military LUH "Light Utility Helicopter" variant based on the A109E Power. Operators include South African Air Force as well as Sweden and Malaysia
o MH-68A Stingray: Eight A109E Powers used by the United States Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Jacksonville (HITRON Jacksonville) as short range armed interdiction helicopters.
* A109K: Military version.
* A109K2: High altitude and high temperature operations with fixed wheels rather than the retractable wheels of most A109 variants. Typically used by police, search and rescue, and air ambulance operators
* A109M: Military version.
o A109KM: Military version for high altitude and high temperature operations.
o A109KN: Naval version.
o A109CM: Standard military version.
o A109GdiF: Version for Guardia di Finanza, the Italian Finance Guard
o A109BA : Version created for the Belgian Army.
* AW109S Grand: Lengthened Cabin upgraded civilian version with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207 engines.
* CA109: Chinese version of A109, manufactured by Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation under license.
Data from www.agustawestland.com
* Crew: 1 or 2 pilots
* Capacity: 7/6 passengers
* Length: 42 ft 9 in (13.04 m)
* Rotor diameter: 36 ft 2 in (11.00 m)
* Height: 11 ft 6 in (3.50 m)
* Empty weight: 3,461 lb (2,000kgs)
* Max takeoff weight: 6,283 lb (2,850 kg- 3,000kg (depending on version))
* Powerplant: 2× Pratt & Whitney Canada 206C or Turbomeca Arrius 2K1 turboshafts, 567 hp or 571 hp (423 kW or 426 kW) each
* Maximum speed: 177 mph (154 knots, 285 km/h)
* Ferry range: 599 mi (521 NM, 964 km)
* Service ceiling 19,600 ft (5,974 m)
* Rate of climb: 1,930 ft/min (9.8 m/s)
(Agusta A109 LUH only)
* Guns: possibilities include 12.7 mm machine gun (250 rounds) in pod, pintle mounted 7.62 mm machine gun, door gunner post 12.7 mm machine gun
* Missiles: possibilities include 2 × TOW missile launchers (2 or 4 missiles each), unguided rockets in pods (2.75 in or 81 mm rockets with 7 or 12 tubes per pod), rocket/machine gun pod (70 mm × 3 rockets and 12.7 mm machine gun (200 rounds))
More photos: MH-68 Stingray helicopter photo gallery
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