Conceived in response to an Italian Army requirement of the mid-1970s, the A-129 Mangusta (mongoose) was the first dedicated attack helicopter to be designed, built and deployed by a European country. It was also the first in the world to be built around an advanced MIL-STD 1553B digital databus, which allows a high degree of automation, considerably reducing the crew workload.
The original Italian requirement had been for 100 Mangustas in distinct anti-tank and scout versions, but as the threat of all-out war in Europe receded, the final order was cut back to 60 A-129s. In the event, a total of 45 A-129s was delivered to Aviazone Escercito (Italian army aviation) between October 1990 and 1992, when production was stopped.
The Italian Mangusta is significantly less capable than a contemporary US AH-64 Apache, AH-1W Super Cobra, or Russian Ka-50 or Mi-28 attack helicopters. It looses to these helicopters in all key areas, including firepower, survivability, speed and range. In fact the Mangusta is one of the least capable gunships, that are currently in service.