The Polish Army has received its first AW-149 multi-role helicopters from Italian defense firm Leonardo.
The delivery was part of a 2022 contract for 8.25 billion Polish zloty ($2 billion) to produce up to 32 AW-149s.
A special handover ceremony was held Monday at the Nowy Glinnik military airbase in central Poland, with Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak in attendance.
The new rotary-wing aircraft will be operated by the 25th Air Cavalry Brigade to support transport and combat missions.
“The only effective response to the threats is strengthening the Polish Army,” Błaszczak remarked. “That is why it gives me great satisfaction to be here to show two of the 32 AW-149 with which the 25th Air Cavalry Brigade is now equipped.”
Deliveries of the remaining 30 AW-149s under order are expected to be carried out until 2029.
W lipcu 2022 r. podpisano umowę, w której śmigłowiec #AW149 został wybrany dla wojska w ramach programu Perkoz. Umowa zakłada pozyskanie 32 maszyn, które będą uzbrojone m. in. w kierowane pociski przeciwpancerne Hellfire. Śmigłowce będą służyć w @25BKPow. pic.twitter.com/D2DFml3SIo
— Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej 🇵🇱 (@MON_GOV_PL) October 30, 2023
Customized for Polish Military
Leonardo’s AW-149 is a new-generation multi-role chopper designed to meet the most demanding needs of the armed forces.
It has a maximum cruise speed of 278 kilometers (173 miles) per hour, a hovering altitude of more than 6,000 feet (1,829 meters), and is capable of carrying up to 18 troops.
The platform can reportedly be reconfigured to perform various demanding tasks in the toughest operational conditions.
The AW-149s ordered by Warsaw have been customized to meet the requirements of the Polish Army, integrating observation systems, small arms, and self-defense systems, among others.
The Polish Ministry of Defense also announced earlier this year that the helicopters will be armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles for added lethality.
“At the moment, the helicopters are still armed only with machine guns and unguided missiles, but guided missiles and Hellfire anti-tank missiles will also be (among) the armaments of these helicopters,” Błaszczak explained.
Apart from the choppers, the billion-dollar contract covers the provision of logistics, training, and simulator packages to help the Polish Army operate the aircraft.