Search Press Releases
Home > Press Releases > Press Release

The Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., has today signed a contract for the purchase of four new helicopters for the Air Corps. The four Utility AB 139 Helicopters are being acquired from the Bell Agusta Aerospace Company at a cost of €49m including VAT and will be operated by the Air Corps in a general purpose military operational and training role. Two helicopters will be delivered in 2006 and the other 2 in 2007.

A contract for the purchase of two light utility EC135 helicopters from Eurocopter SAS will be signed shortly. These machines will be delivered later this year.

“I am looking forward to these helicopters coming on stream over the next three years” commented Mr. O’Dea. “The Air Corps are performing a superb job and deserve the very best of equipment to support them in their work. These new helicopters will provide a very significant boost to the Defence Forces and Air Corps. The purchase of the helicopters is another positive indication of the Government’s commitment to ensure that all branches of the Defence Forces are fully equipped to carry out their day-to-day roles.”


The tender competition for helicopters was advertised in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 29 May 2004.

A comprehensive evaluation process was carried out on three tender proposals by an evaluation team comprising officials from the Department of Defence, the Air Corps and the Army and that process was completed in November 2004.

A total of 6 helicopters are being purchased for the Air Corps at an overall cost of €60m approx. Bell/Agusta Aerospace will supply 4 AB139 Utility Helicopters and 2 Light Utility EC135 helicopters will be supplied by Eurocopter SAS.

The four utility helicopters will be operated by the Air Corps in general purpose military operational and training roles. Primary taskings will include training and operations with Special Forces, security and aid to the civil power, military exercises, infantry interoperability training and limited troop transport. They will also be used to perform air ambulance, inland Search and Rescue, aid to the civil community and VIP transport tasks.

The AB139s helicopters will be built at the Agusta facility near Milan, Italy.

Issued by Press Office, Department of Defence (01) 8042108 or 087 234 0397

The Bell Agusta AB139 Helicopter

The AB139 is a twin turbine helicopter with inherent multi-role capability and flexibility of operation. It is ideal for Military training and operational roles because of its modern design and compliance with the latest safety and certification standards combined with an exceptional power to weight ratio and high-speed capability.

Features of the AB139 Utility Helicopter include:
A large, unobstructed cabin of 8 cubic metres.
Large main cabin doors on both sides of the helicopter with low sill height for easy ingress and egress.

Military support capability:
8 equipped (115kg) troops / 280 nm range.
8 equipped (115kg) troops / 150 nm range + 380 kg of additional equipment.
NVG capability (night vision).
External underslung load up to 2720 kgs.

Air ambulance Capability:
With 3 crew, 2 medics, 1 patient and neo-natal equipment it has 140 nautical miles radius of action.

Maximum cruise speed of 167 kts.
Range in excess of 400mn on standard fuel tanks.
IFR capability (instrument flight at night).
3-axis digital automatic flight control system (DAFCS).

Other features:

Powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67C engines.
Modern ‘glass cockpit’ based on 4 screen LCD, colour display
Low pilot workload through ergonomic design and cockpit management aids.
High tail rotor (2.3m clearance) for ground safety
Improved stability on the ground through long wheelbase and wide track.

The AB139 is in full production, with firm orders for over 80 helicopters for more than 40 customers, for offshore, corporate, law-enforcement, paramilitary and military roles worldwide.

First deliveries to customers commenced in 2003.

BellAgusta Aerospace Company (BAAC) is a joint venture company formed in 1998 between Agusta SpA of Italy and Bell Helicopters of the USA. BAAC was established for the joint design, manufacture and product support of the AB139 helicopter and BA609 tilt-rotor aircraft. Agusta has product leadership for the AB139 and the helicopters are built at the Agusta facility near Milan, Italy.

Related Press Releases

No documents found

Contact Us

Department of Defence
Station Road
Co. Kildare
W12 AD93

Tel 00 353 45 492000
Fax 00 353 45 492017
* loCall 1890 251890
** Or call 0761 001 607

* Note that the rates charged for the use of 1890 (LoCall) numbers may vary among different service providers
** 0761 numbers are charged as a national number from landlines and mobiles and are often included in bundle deals offered by phone operators