first helicopter Leonardo AW169M LUH for Austria armed forces
@ Daniel Trippolt / Bundesheer

Austrian MoD takes delivery of its first italian helicopter AW169M LUH produced by Leonardo and doubles the orders

The first of 18 italian helicopters Leonardo AW169M LUH was delivered in line with contractual obligations. The Austrian MoD’s AW169M LUH programme begins a new era in national defence and emergency response capabilities. Options for an additional 18 helicopters have been exercised in the framework of the Italy-Austria G2G initiative aimed at reinforcing the bilateral collaboration between the two countries and establishing a strategic partnership in the rotorcraft sector.

Alessandro Profumo, Chief Executive Officer of Leonardo, said: “It gives us great pleasure to see the first AW169M LUH here in Austria and we welcome the decision to further expand the fleet. We look forward to providing an even greater contribution with the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution to meet the stringent requirements set by the collaboration between the two governments. We’re committed to sustaining this important and growing programme.

The Austrian Ministry of Defence’s AW169M LUH helicopter programme set a major milestone today with the delivery of the first aircraft from an initial order of 18 units, based on the Italy-Austria Government-to-Government (G2G) Agreement announced by the relevant Authorities at the end of 2021.

The handover of the aircraft, built at Leonardo’s Vergiate facility in Italy, achieved in line with the contractual obligations, was performed during an official ceremony held at the Tulln-Langenlebarn Brumowski Air Base, in the presence of Leonardo’s senior management. Austria and Italy also announced today a G2G Agreement amendment through which Austria is exercising options for an additional 18 helicopters, providing further evidence of its confidence in the selected platform.

The other helicopters will be added in the following years and all 36 helicopters are expected to be in Austria by 2028. Once deliveries are complete, 12 helicopters will be stationed at Langenlebarn air base as operational helicopters, 12 helicopters as operational helicopters at Aigen/Ennstal air base and 12 as training helicopters/operational helicopters at Langenlebarn air base.

The Italy-Austria G2G initiative is aimed at reinforcing the bilateral collaboration between the two countries and establishing a strategic partnership in the rotorcraft sector, with Austria looking at Italy and the AW169M LUH programme for its modernisation plan and the replacement of its ageing Alouette III aircraft fleet, which have been in service since the 1960s.

The first aircraft’s handover marks a significant leap forward for Austria, starting a new era in national defence and emergency response capabilities. Furthermore, it also represents an important milestone for Leonardo, celebrating the first delivery to the export market of the AW169M variant, under a G2G programme. Austrian crews have already been leveraging initial training supplied at Leonardo’s Training Academy in Sesto Calende (Italy) and will be supported by the Italian Army’s training capabilities as an AW169M LUH operator.

According to Vienna, the government-to-government (G2G) contract has a volume of around 346 million euros. With the costs for the provision of infrastructure (construction or renovation of the hangars, development of the simulator and other structural measures), for the components to be supplied and taking into account the sales tax of 20%, the total expenditure for the Ministry of Defense amounted to around 446 million euros.

first helicopter Leonardo AW169M LUH for Austria armed forces

With a contractual adjustment (ie with the purchase of a further 18 helicopters for a total of 36 machines), the total volume is approximately 304 million euro. Taking into account the infrastructure measures and the sales tax, the Austrian Ministry of Defense will save a total of around 427 million euros. A helicopter of this type costs between eight and 15 million euros to purchase, depending on the equipment and additional packages.

The AW169M LUH, with its superior performance and unmatched latest generation capabilities, as well as the complete support and training services to perform true multirole operations, is the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution to meet the rigorous needs of the operator. The AW169M LUHs will be able to carry out a wide range of missions supporting Austrian defence requirements and the national community, such as troop transport, combat operations, disaster relief and emergency response, fire-fighting, mountain rescue and MEDEVAC.

Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, added: “The development of this programme 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. We know the outstanding technology, performance, multirole capabilities and complete services of the type will significantly boost national defence and emergency response, even more with today’s decision to rely on an even larger fleet in the future.

The AW169M represents the military variant of the AW169, the future generation helicopter developed by Leonardo and equipped with state-of-the-art on-board technologies, designed to the latest FAR/JAR/EASA requirements as well as those standards of military, homeland security and government users. The platform features outstanding power, agility and manoeuvrability, which provides excellent handling characteristics in a wide range of operating conditions including hot and high.

The unique transmission design provides power to hydraulic, electrical and air conditioning systems with the rotors stopped (APU mode) optimising response time and availability. The cabin is the most spacious in its class and features a constant height cross section for rapid reconfiguration and ease of access. Pilots benefit from a latest-generation, open-architecture avionics suite, including a fully-digital glass cockpit and unprecedented external visibility, providing advanced tactical and situational awareness.

The global AW169 fleet, with more than 150 units delivered to operators in nearly 30 countries, has logged in excess of 128,000 flight hours in all kind of operations and conditions. Customers worldwide have placed orders and options for over 300 AW169 helicopters to date, including military and law enforcement/public service operators, to carry out a range of missions including utility, surveillance, special operations, maritime patrol, land reconnaissance, training, rescue and fire-fighting.

In Italy, the adoption of the AW169M by operators among armed forces and government law enforcement agencies replacing many ageing models provides the advantage of unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities and synergies across the growing AW169 fleets.

This strengthens the possibility to perform effective and safe joint operations with other users of this modern type and represents a quantum leap in homeland security, emergency response capability and overall through-lifecycle costs/effectiveness for decades to come.

Images: Daniel Trippolt / Bundesheer