The AW101 is equipped with electric blade and tail fold for ship hangar stowage.
During operations Atalanta and Ocean Shield the AW101 undertook sea surface control and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions along the coast of Somalia looking for vessels involved in piracy and smuggling.
The 3° Gruppo Elicotteri currently operates ten helicopters, mainly in anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare configuration, but also one in the helicopter early warning role.
The 3° Gruppo Elicotteri based at NAS Catania recently passed the 100,000 flight hour milestone, of which, about 6,000 were dedicated to 1,900 rescue missions in support of the community.
One tasking for 3° Gruppo Elicotteri is to supply helicopters and combat-ready crews to embark onboard the largest ships in the Italian Navy Fleet.
Former commanding officer of 3° Gruppo Elicotteri, Cdr Paolo Florentino is now the station commander of NAS Catania. Cdr Florentino has flown a variety of types including the AB212ASW, SH-3DASW and AW101. He has achieved over 2,000 hours and 700 deck landings.
AW101s used for anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare are equipped with FLIR, radar, transponder with IFF, electronic warfare and self-protection systems, HELRAS II sonar and Link 11.
The AW101 s HELRAS II sonar and its radar are capable of detecting and identifying targets of interest more efficiently than the sensors fitted to earlier Italian Fleet Air Arm helicopters.
AW101s assigned to 3° Gruppo Elicotteri operated from ITS Garibaldi during NATO's Operation Unified Protector. The squadron conducted anti-surface warfare and electronic warfare missions, while providing round-the-clock readiness with an AW101 used as the airborne mission coordinator for personnel recovery missions.