Leonardo has delivered the first of 22 latest-generation AW169M light intermediate twin-engine helicopters for Italy’s Guardia di Finanza. The handover event was held at Leonardo’s Vergiate plant on 12 November. The initial delivery is linked to a contract worth 280 million euros, which was signed at the end of 2018, it also includes a complete support and training package that could be extended in the future for further services with an additional value of 100 million euros. The AW169Ms will be used for various tasks including: maritime police/patrol, homeland customs security, law enforcement, rescue and other security duties. The delivery of all aircraft is expected to be completed by 2024, complementing a fleet of 14 AW139 intermediate twin helicopters.
The AW169M represents the government variant of the AW169, the future generation helicopter programme developed by Leonardo, equipped with state-of-the-art on-board technologies. To date there are more than 90 operative AW169s worldwide, orders for the helicopter exceed 200 units, from more than 80 customers in 30 different countries. In Italy the AW169 has already proven extremely successful among various operators for EMS duties across the country. There are also various applications for which this helicopter is used particularly VIP-corporate transport, search and rescue activities, government and law enforcement services.
The AW169M obtained the military certification by ARMAEREO (Italian Directorate Air Armaments) in September 2019. The aircraft of Guardia di Finanza will feature a dedicated configuration including: a rescue hoist, an emergency floatation system and life rafts, wire cutters, TCAS II (Traffic Collision Avoidance System), a NVG (Night Vision Goggle) compatible cockpit, HTAWS (Helicopter Terrain Awareness Warning System), an advanced communication system, OPLS (Obstacle Proximity Lidar System), advanced HUMS (Health Usage Monitoring System), AFCS (Automatic Flight Control System) with SAR modes, a searchlight, an ice detector, fast roping, satcom, and provisions for a hyperspectral detection and reconnaissance system. The helicopters will be also fitted with a range of Leonardo systems such as a RW ATOS (Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance) system with an advanced operator console, Gabbiano radar, LEOSS (Long Range Electro-Optical Surveillance System), M428 IFF transponder, V/UHF radio systems cockpit panels and lighting.
The AW169M is the military variant of the latest generation AW169 4.8t twin-engine helicopter, designed to the latest FAR/JAR/EASA requirements as well as those 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 (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.