The procurement of 18 Leonardo AW169M multi-purpose helicopters is now finally on the rails. On December 2nd, Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner and her Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini signed a corresponding administrative agreement at government level. A mutual declaration of intent, a “Letter of Intent”, on this “government-to-government” deal was signed in November, but the project has now been given concrete form with the administrative agreement at government level. Now the respective specialists can also implement the procurement process. The Austrian Ministry of Defence buys 18 new Leonardo AW169M multi-purpose helicopters, the acquisition is made in cooperation with Italy and amounts to 300 million euros.
Leonardo AW169M is a military version of the AW169 twin-engine, 10-seat, 4.8t helicopter developed and manufactured by the helicopter division of Leonardo (formerly AgustaWestland, merged into Finmeccanica since 2016). It was designed to share similarities with the larger AgustaWestland AW139 and AgustaWestland AW189. The platform features class-leading performance for a wide range of missions in the most demanding conditions. The AW169M can successfully perform a wide variety of roles including Troop Transport, Logistics Support, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Special Forces Operations, Command and Control, Medical Evacuation and Casualty Evacuation, Search and Rescue and Personnel Recovery. The platform can be customised with a large range of equipment, sensor and weapon systems to provide outstanding mission flexibility to military operators.
The unobstructed cabin interior enables rapid configuration changes to suit operational requirements. Optional ballistic protection for cockpit and cabin, self-sealing tanks and defensive aids suite ensure high levels of survivability and crashworthiness. Advanced open architecture avionics and systems enhance the AW169M’s multi-role capabilities. Its cockpit’s ergonomic design reduces pilot workload while maximising external visibility, allowing the crew to concentrate on achieving mission objectives. Internal Weapons include 12.7 mm machine gun or two pintle-mounted 7.62 mm machine guns. External Weapons include 7.62mm/12.7 mm machine guns and/or guided and unguided rockets and/or air to ground missiles.
The AW169 is powered by a pair of powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210A engines, with FADEC, combined with the advanced rotor system provide superior ‘hot and high’ performance. The engines drives the main rotor at variable speeds to reduce external noise and increase efficiency. Newly developed dampeners were installed between the rotor blades of the main rotor in order to reduce vibration levels for a smooth passenger experience. It has the distinction of being the first production helicopter of its category to feature electronically-actuated landing gear. Weighing roughly 4,500 kg and accommodating 7-10 passengers, it is positioned between the 3,175 kg 8-seat AW109GrandNew and the much larger 6,400 kg 15-seat AW139.