In the scope of the Italian-Austrian cooperation scheme, the Italian General Secretariat of Defence has signed a contract with Leonardo for the delivery of 18 AW169M Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) to Austria. The underlying principle of this cooperation scheme appears to be similar to that applied to the US Government FMS cases. According to Leonardo, six helicopters in the AW169B variant (training helicopters) and 12 in the AW169MA variant (tactical helicopters with armament) will be delivered between 2022 and 2026. This is in addition to a comprehensive support and training package. The contract value was stated at €346M. The contract also includes options for a further 18 helicopters.
The helicopters will be able to perform a wide range of missions in support of Austrian defence, such as:
- troop transport
- combat operations
- disaster relief
- emergency response
- mountain rescue
Austrian crews will benefit from initial training conducted with the support of the Italian Army and its experience as operator of AW169M LUH, as well as from the supply of specialised training and simulation equipment.
The AW169M is a 5-tonne class helicopter that is powered by two engines with 686 kW continuous power each. This gives it a top speed of 270 km/h and allows it to fly for over 800 km. The maximum flight time is 4.3 hours. The helicopter can carry up to two tonnes of payload. This can be up to 12 people, cargo or mission equipment. Leonardo specifies as possible armament:
- Integrated machine guns used from inside the cabin
- external weapon pods for heavy machine guns
- missile launchers for seven or twelve missiles
- observation and targeting equipment