Leonardo and the Directorate for Air Armaments and Airworthiness of the Italian Secretariat General of Defence/National Armaments Directorate signed 12 January 2022 the Acquisition Contract for the supply of AW169M Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) to the Austrian Ministry of Defence. The contract, valued at 346 million EUR, was signed in the framework of the Italy-Austria Government-to-Government (G2G) Agreement. It is aimed at reinforcing the bilateral collaboration between the two countries and establishing a strategic partnership in the rotorcraft sector, with Austria looking at Italy and the AW169M LUH programme for the replacement of its ageing fleet of Alouette III aircraft, which have been in service since the 1960s.
The programme envisages the delivery from Leonardo’s Vergiate final assembly plant (Northern Italy) of 18 helicopters – six AW169 in the ‘B’ variant, 12 in the ‘MA’ advanced multirole variant with integrated mission equipment and weapon systems – plus a comprehensive and customised support and training package. The helicopters will be able to carry out a wide range of missions supporting Austrian defence requirements and the national community, such as troop transport, combat operations, disaster relief and emergency response, fire-fighting, mountain rescue and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). The first AW169M LUH is expected to be delivered before year end and all helicopter’ deliveries are expected to be completed by 2026. The contract also includes options for a further 18 helicopters. Austrian crews will leverage initial training delivered with the support of Italian Army’s and its expertise as an AW169M LUH operator, and will also benefit from the supply of dedicated training and simulation devices.
Yesterday’s signing marks the latest step thanks to the preliminary Government to Government (G2G) document, which was signed by the Italian Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini and the Austrian Minister of Defence, Klaudia Tanner on 2 December 2021. Italian Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini said: «We’re happy with this result which brings to a new phase of collaboration on procurement. It demonstrates the quality of Italian technology and products through international recognition. We really believe G2G is a highly effective industrial policy tool and a smart formula to support exports».
Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, said: «We welcome the completion of the contractual phase of the G2G initiative between Italy and Austria with this latest step, which allows us to provide our contribution to supply the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution to meet the stringent requirement set by the collaboration between the two governments. We look forward to start being an active part in the delivery of this important programme».
Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said: «This contract is further testament to the superior performance, unmatched latest generation capabilities and the complete support and training solutions of the AW169M to perform true multirole operations, meeting the most demanding needs of operators and for their personnel’s effectiveness and safety. The type will ensure a significant leap forward for national defence and emergency response in Austria».
The AW169M is the military variant of the latest generation AW169 twin-engine helicopter, designed to the latest Federal Aviation Regulations/Joint Aviation Requirements/European Aviation Safety Agency (FAR/JAR/EASA) requirements as well as those standards of military, homeland security and government users. The platform features outstanding power, agility and manoeuvrability, which provides excellent handling characteristics in a wide range of operating conditions including hot and high. The unique transmission design provides power to hydraulic, electrical and air conditioning systems with the rotors stopped (Auxiliary Power Unit mode – APU mode) optimising response time and availability. The cabin is the most spacious in its class and features a constant height cross section for rapid reconfiguration and ease of access. Pilots benefit from a latest-generation, open-architecture avionics suite, including a fully-digital glass cockpit and unprecedented external visibility, providing advanced tactical and situational awareness. Customers worldwide have placed orders and options for over 300 AW169 helicopters today, including military and law enforcement/public service operators, to carry out a range of missions including utility, surveillance, special operations, maritime patrol, land reconnaissance, training, rescue and fire-fighting. In Italy, the adoption of the AW169M by operators among armed forces and government law enforcement agencies replacing many ageing models provides the advantage of unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities and synergies across the growing AW169 fleets. This strengthens the possibility to perform effective and safe joint operations with other users of this modern type and represents a quantum leap in homeland security, emergency response capability and overall through-lifecycle costs/effectiveness for decades to come. More than 130 AW169s are already in service today and have logged in excess of 100,000 flight hours in operations worldwide.