The Italian Navy has deployed three AgustaWestland AW101 ASH helicopters to Afghanistan for the first time.

The three helicopters are part of air task group “Shark” to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), according to

The missions include aero-medical assistance, transport, force protection and surveillance, and will also feature a medical team of a doctor and two paramedics.

The aircraft have been equipped with improved ballistic protection, defensive aids equipment and 7.62mm machine guns, according to Flight Global.

The Italian Navy has in the past deployed Agusta-Bell AB212s and Sikorksy SH-3D Sea Kings to Afghanistan, but the high terrain and medical evacuation mission demanded a more capable aircraft.