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Leonardo A129 Mangusta (Mongoose)

Dedicated Attack Helicopter

Italy | 1990

"The AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta was designed from the outset to fulfill an Italian Army attack helicopter requirement."

Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 04/27/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Agusta A129 "Mangusta" ("Mongoose") is a modern Italian-designed and developed, two-seat, twin-engined battlefield helicopter developed specifically for the anti-armor/attack role. The aircraft was originally in development to a joint 1972 Italian Army and West German Army requirement for such an air vehicle when helicopter manufacturers Agusta of Italy and MBB (Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm) of West Germany came together to flesh out a possible solution. However, the West German participation was short-lived, leaving Agusta to carry on solo.

In the beginning, the Agusta A109 product was targeted for modification until the program developed into the late 1970s to begat an all-new design. A slimmer, stepped-tandem-seat configuration was adopted as well as engines high-mounted onto the fuselage sides. Survivability was key to such a vehicle and armoring, weaponry and automation was integral to the final product - now designated the A129.

A working prototype went airborne for the first time on September 11th, 1983 and the Italian Army originally eyed some 100 total units. With the end of the Cold War in 1991, the attack helicopter requirement was not so pressing, leading to a reduction of A129 procurement to a more manageable 60 units with the first delivered in October of 1990. This then marked the first attack helicopter to be wholly designed, developed and produced in Europe. The Agusta brand label eventually evolved to become AgustaWestland and, thusly, the name is now carried by the still-in-service A129 product.

It bears mention that the attack helicopter became a mainstay of world militaries during the Cold War decades when the threat from masses of Soviet tanks in the East was very real, particularly across European territories. As such, many armed forces dedicated funding and developmental resources for delivering a mobile weapons platform to counter this threat. The A129 Mangusta, therefore, joined other like-systems in service during this period - perhaps the most famous of these being the American Hughes AH-64 "Apache" tank killer.

In the A129, seating for the two crew follows well-accepted attack helicopter doctrine which sees the weapons officer seated in the forward cockpit and the pilot in the raised, second offering at rear. Windscreens are glazed to minimize glint with the side panels ejecting during crash/emergency landings. The entire air frame is made "crash worthy" to an extent in an effort to preserve the crew as ejection seats are impossible in a helicopter design. Power was originally served through 2 x Piaggio (licensed Rolls-Royce) Gem 2-1004D turboshaft engines delivering up to 890 horsepower each while driving a four-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor (the latter facing portside). This provided the helicopter with a maximum speed of 170 miles per hour, a cruising speed of 155 miles per hour, a combat range out to 320 miles and a ferry range out to 620 miles on internal fuel stores. The helicopter also sported a service ceiling of 15,500 feet with a rate-of-climb nearing 2,025 feet per minute.

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Production of the first 45 units ended in 1992 and this was then followed by an improved form based on a new initiative - the A129 "International" - which numbered the final 15 examples. The new model brought about various design and systematic improvements to broaden inherent mission capabilities and performance qualities of the base Mangusta line. Its prototype went airborne for the first time on January 9th, 1995.

Armament of the Mangusta line has since grown to include a powered chin turret with the three-barreled, 20mm M197 Gatling-style cannon as standard. Other armament proved variable and displayed across two wingstubs with a pair of hardpoints afforded to each assembly. These hardpoints could accept up to 8 x BGM-71 TOW/AGM-114 "Hellfire" anti-tank missiles or 8 x "Mistral"/AIM-92 "Stinger" air-to-air missiles. Additionally, up to 4 x rocket pods (38 x 81mm OR 76 x 70mm unguided) could be carried as well as a mixed armament load to suit mission requirements (missiles and rockets for example). The hardpoints were also cleared to carry 12.7mm machine gun pods as required, increasing the platform's battlefield versatility.

In all, there have been just four major A129 marks beginning with the original A129 models. The A129 "International" mark brought about use of a five-bladed rotor assembly as well as a chin turret mounting the M197 Gatling gun. Avionics were upgraded for the better and the powerplants improved to a pair of LHTEC T800 series turboshaft engines. Its weapon systems also supported the launching of American TOW/Hellfire anti-tank missiles and short-ranged Stinger air-to-air missiles. The follow-up A129CBT ("ComBaT") therefore included many of the A129 International's realized features as well as an uprated transmission arrangement while still retaining use of the original Rolls-Royce Gem 2 series engines.

All original A129s have been modernized to the A129CBT standard. A newer, armed reconnaissance standard is the ARH-129D of which the Italian Army hopes to upgraded from twenty-four existing A129 airframes and purchase a further twenty-four helicopters in time.

The most modern offshoot of the Mangusta is now the Turkish-derived T-129 "ATAK" which is based on the Italian Army's A-129CBT model. It is intended as a local attack helicopter solution and will make use of Turkish designed avionics software and missile/mission systems. The T-129 is still under development (as of March 2014) by TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries).

There have been several proposed - yet ultimately abandoned - A129 initiatives throughout the Mangusta's service life. These included a troop-carrying armored transport gunship (similar in tactical scope to the Soviet/Russian "Hind" series), an over-water maritime assault version for interested navies, an armed scout model and a multi-role/multi-mission offering. None were furthered.

As such, the only current operators of the A129 series remain Italy and - soon to join them - Turkey. To date, combat service of Mangustas has centered around United Nations initiatives including peacekeeping/support initiatives across Afghanistan, Angola, Iraq, Macedonia and Somalia.

January 2017 - The Italian Army hopes to retire its existing stock of A129 attack helicopters in or around 2025. Leonardo has been contracted to develop a successor with advanced capabilities.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Leonardo A129 Mangusta Dedicated Attack Helicopter.
2 x Rolls-Royce Gem 2-1004D turboshaft engines developing 890 horsepower while driving a four- or five-bladed main rotor blade and two-bladed tail rotor.
174 mph
280 kph | 151 kts
Max Speed
15,502 ft
4,725 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
317 miles
510 km | 275 nm
Operational Range
2,025 ft/min
617 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Leonardo A129 Mangusta Dedicated Attack Helicopter.
40.3 ft
12.28 m
O/A Length
39.0 ft
(11.90 m)
O/A Width
11.0 ft
(3.35 m)
O/A Height
5,578 lb
(2,530 kg)
Empty Weight
10,141 lb
(4,600 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Leonardo A129 Mangusta (Mongoose) Dedicated Attack Helicopter provided across 4 hardpoints.
1 x 20mm M197 Gatling gun in powered chin turret

Mission-specific ordnance may include any of the following:

TOW-2/TOW-2A anti-tank missiles
AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles
70mm/80mm rocket pods (unguided)
Stinger air-to-air missiles
12.7mm machine gun pods

Hardpoints Key:

Not Used
Notable series variants as part of the Leonardo A129 Mangusta (Mongoose) family line.
A129 Mangusta - Base Model Designation appearing in 1990.
A129 "International" - Improved model; introduction of five-bladed main rotor assembly; updated avionics and weapons suite; fitted with 2 x LHTEC T800 series turboshaft engines; M197 powered chin turret with 20mm cannon; support for American Hellfire anti-tank missiles and Stinger air-to-air missiles.
A129CBT ("ComBaT") - Improved A129 combat form with improvements of A129 International line with improved transmission though retaining Rolls-Royce turboshaft engines.
T-129 ATAK - Turkish Aerospace Industries development based on A129CBT product for Turkish Army use.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Leonardo A129 Mangusta (Mongoose). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 60 Units

Contractor(s): Leonardo-Finmeccanica (Agusta / AgustaWestland) - Italy
National flag of Italy National flag of Turkey

[ Italy; Turkey (T-129 development) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (174mph).

Graph Average of 150 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Leonardo A129 Mangusta (Mongoose)
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Leonardo A129 Mangusta (Mongoose) Dedicated Attack Helicopter.
Going Further...
The Leonardo A129 Mangusta (Mongoose) Dedicated Attack Helicopter appears in the following collections:
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