Leonardo announced on 10 July 2020 the delivery of the first of two AW169 basic training twin engine helicopters to the Italian Army during an official ceremony held at the 2nd Regiment AVES «Sirio» based in Lamezia Terme in the presence of representatives from the operator and industry. The second aircraft is expected to be handed over in the next few months.
The introduction of the new generation training helicopter (designated UH-169B) allows the Italian Army to prepare its crews for the future operational transition to its all-new advanced multirole Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) programme developed on the AW169 dual-use baseline and aimed at longer term fleet modernisation and rationalization plan. The two AW169 trainers, which will enable the Italian Army to familiarise with the platform’s basic characteristics during the development of the new LUH, are being supplied with a comprehensive «turnkey» logistical support and a pilot/maintenance technician training package.
The LUH programme is aimed at progressively replacing ageing models including the A109, AB206, AB205, AB212 and AB412 to meet the evolving operational requirements, and benefits from a more efficient supply chain based on a ‘one single platform’ approach. The introduction of the AW169 LUH, specifically developed for the Italian Army leveraging on the AW169M military helicopter baseline, also provides the advantage of unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities and synergies across the growing AW169 fleets of Government operators in Italy. 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-life-cycle cost/effectiveness for decades to come. The overall AW169 LUH programme is based on an advanced multirole configuration provided with dedicated flight/mission equipment including, among others, skids landing gear and an advanced Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4) command, control and communication system to grant full interoperability with the other assets in the NATO environment.
Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director Leonardo Helicopters, said: «It gives us great pleasure to celebrate with the Italian Army the delivery of its first AW169 in basic training configuration as an essential enabler ahead of the implementation of the new, broader LUH programme. The LUH will definitely represent the start of a new era in terms of capabilities, technical support, mission flexibility and interoperability in the light weight segment. The new programme takes advantage of many decades of a successful partnership and continued exchange of information, intended to fully understand the changing operational needs and how to address them through the possibilities offered by new technologies. We’re committed to supporting the Italian Army to maximise the benefits of these new helicopters».
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 Union 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, 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. Orders for over 220 AW169 helicopters have been placed by customers worldwide 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 firefighting.