Austria’s Ministry of Defence has taken delivery of its first AW169M light utility helicopter from Italian defense firm Leonardo.
The aircraft is the first of 18 under order as part of a 2021 Italy-Austria government-to-government agreement.
The country chose the AW169M over Bell’s 429 Global Ranger and Airbus’ H145M twin-engine battlefield helicopters because of logistical issues.
The new helicopters will succeed the aging Alouette III light liaison and transport helicopters, which will be decommissioned next year.
“The development of this program and the handover of the first aircraft in line with the delivery schedule is the result of an amazing collaboration among all the involved parties,” Leonardo managing director Gian Piero Cutillo said.
“We know the outstanding technology, performance, multirole capabilities and complete services of the type will significantly boost national defense and emergency response, even more with today’s decision to rely on an even larger fleet in the future.”
Expanding the Fleet
During the handover ceremony on Wednesday, the defense ministry announced that it is exercising its option for an additional 18 AW169M helicopters.
According to Leonardo chief executive officer Alessandro Profumo, the decision to further expand the fleet is a way to provide “an even greater contribution” using the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution.
“We’re committed to sustaining this important and growing program,” he said.
Powered by two Pratt&Whitney engines, the AW169M helicopter is designed to support a wide variety of missions, including troop transport, logistics support, surveillance and reconnaissance, and personnel recovery.
It has a maximum takeoff weight of 4,600 kilograms (10,141 pounds), a top speed of 284 kilometers (176 miles) per hour, and can accommodate up to 10 personnel.