The Angolan Air Force will soon take delivery of two AW139 helicopters from Leonardo Helicopters.
One was seen undergoing test flights in Italy last month with Angolan markings and fitted with a searchlight and electro-optical/infrared turret under the nose. It was painted red, white and grey, indicating it may be used for search and rescue, police or government duties.
The aircraft was originally built for Atlantic Aviation Nigeria but after being flown last year it was not ordered by the company and instead allocated to Angola, according to Air Forces Daily, which noted a second AW139 had been seen earlier this year undergoing test flights before delivery to Angola.
In February last year AgustaWestland (now Leonardo Helicopters) announced it had received four new orders for its AW139 helicopter in West Africa. The orders were announced as coming from four undisclosed government customers, which would use the helicopters for transporting passengers.
A single AW139 was delivered to Ivory Coast for VIP duties in mid-2015 and another AW139 was delivered to Burkina Faso’s Air Force in late 2015 or early 2016. These deliveries indicate the other two helicopters are for Angola.
Angola’s Air Force has ordered new helicopters and is refurbishing existing models – in June this year it was confirmed as a new customer for the A109E Power, with six having been ordered in 2015 for 90 million euros.
On 23 December, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos signed several contracts with Finmeccanica for helicopters, radars and patrol boats, but at the time it was not known what type of helicopters were being acquired. The radar portion of the contract is said to be worth 115 million euros. Another contract, worth around 7.3 million euros, is for two fast patrol craft built by Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei, also part of Finmeccanica.
Angola’s air force currently flies Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters and is believed to have half a dozen AS565 Panthers, a dozen Alouette IIIs and several SA 315B Lamas, SA342M Gazelles and Bell 212s in its inventory. A large proportion of Angola’s air force is in a state of disrepair due to a lack of maintenance or is in storage. Nevertheless, the southern African nation is due to receive refurbished Mi-24P attack helicopters from Russian Helicopters, which in 2015/2016 delivered eight armed Mi-171Sh helicopters to Angola as part of a deal signed with Rosoboronexport in 2013.