The Argentine Navy has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) for the acquisition of eight Leonardo AW-109 Naval Helicopters during a visit to Italy by the Minister of Defense, Jorge Taiana. The procurement of these advanced helicopters represents a crucial step in enhancing the Argentine Navy’s control and surveillance capabilities over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and maritime spaces under national jurisdiction. These helicopters are specifically designed for shipborne operations and are set to be integrated into the Argentine Navy’s Ocean Patrol Vessels (OPVs).
The longstanding defense cooperation between Argentina and Italy, dating back to 1992 with the signing of the Defense Cooperation Agreement in Rome, continues to bear fruit. This agreement, which came into force in 1997, has laid the foundation for mutual cooperation in the productive sector and the acquisition of defense equipment and capabilities. Minister Taiana’s visit to Italy included a bilateral meeting with his Italian counterpart, Guido Crosetto, at the Army Palace, where discussions centered on strengthening cooperation in production, defense, training, and support for Antarctic operations.
The Leonardo AW-109, originally known as the Agusta A109, is a lightweight, twin-engine, eight-seat multi-purpose helicopter with a rich Italian heritage. It holds the distinction of being the first all-Italian helicopter to be mass-produced. Production of the AW-109 has continued under the umbrella of Leonardo S.p.A., formerly AgustaWestland, which merged into Finmeccanica in 2016. The AW-109 naval helicopter is a versatile medium twin-engine aircraft capable of fulfilling various roles, including surveillance, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Search and Rescue (SAR) missions.
Equipped with a side winch, it facilitates air evacuations, making it invaluable in critical situations. With a capacity for one pilot, one co-pilot, and six crew members, it can operate for up to three hours and cover a range of approximately 574 kilometers. The acquisition of these cutting-edge helicopters marks a strategic investment in the Argentine Navy’s maritime capabilities, enabling it to more effectively protect its territorial waters and contribute to regional security efforts. This move underscores the commitment of Argentina to maintaining a strong and capable defense force while fostering international partnerships to achieve its defense objectives.