First AW169 helicopter arrives in Austria
The Austrian MoD has received the first of an initial 18 AW169M light utility helicopters (LUHs), Leonardo announced on 21 December.
The aircraft is part of the Italy-Austria government-to-government (G2G) initiative signed in 2021. It aims to strengthen collaboration between the two countries and establish a strategic partnership in the rotorcraft sector.
Options for an additional 18 aircraft were also exercised in the framework of the G2G initiative, as Shephard reported in November. However, the delivery timeframe for the remaining aircraft was not disclosed.
Austria chose the AW169M to fulfil some of its modernisation objectives and to replace ageing Alouette III aircraft, which have been in service since the 1960s.
Austria operates 28 Alouettes with a planned out-of-service date of 2026.
Leonardo said the aircraft handover to Austria was an important milestone for the company as it marks the first delivery of the AW169M variant for export.
Leonardo has been providing training for Austrian crews in its academy at Sesto Calende, Italy. Austria will also benefit from the Italian Army’s training capabilities as an operator of the AW169M LUH.
Alessandro Profumo, CEO 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 AW169M is the military version of the multirole AW169.
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