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Whatever the mission, the AW149 can support (sponsored)

2nd September 2021 - 11:45 GMT | by Industry Spotlight

Imagine the scene: You have just been tasked for a CASEVAC mission. The objective is to extract seven troops and a casualty from the battlefield. You need to get to the extraction point quickly and leave just as fast. The enemy are closing in on the ground forces, and to add to the pressure, the weather is deteriorating.

This article is brought to you by Leonardo.

If you are a pilot, passenger or being rescued, the AW149 is the helicopter to support this operation. From a pilot and crew perspective, the maximum speed of 155 knots means you can get to your destination quickly and with a maximum endurance of more than 5 hours, you have enough capacity to complete your mission and return safely.

With the aircraft’s large cabin and small footprint –  the AW149 is perfect for delivering maximum effect during confined operations and with its advanced avionics on-board and VFR/IFR day and night capabilities, even the most challenging  environment becomes achievable. The transparencies in the cockpit and cabin allow for maximum visibility and situational awareness. When this is coupled with the on-board avionics e.g. Integrated Digital Map, Synthetic Vision, HTAWS amongst other capabilities, this enables a low workload cockpit, adds to the excellent external field of view, which, in, turn, enables the crew to have a wide periphery to spot hazards, casualties, troops, and enemy forces.

Adding to this the crashworthy fuel tank provides the crew with peace of mind when landing in hostile environments. With high ground clearance and the ability to land on unprepared surfaces, the crew can carry out rapid troop insertion and dependent on the mission fit, enable four stretchers and eight seats, or a high-density configuration with 19 crashworthy seats. Whatever the mission, the AW149’s flexibility can ensure it meets any task from logistics and troop insertion through to CASEVAC, SAR and Special Forces Missions.

The AW149 is a proven platform, in-service in a range of harsh climates worldwide, which is currently assembled in Italy to serve the world market. Leonardo is offering the twin-engine platform to customers around the world that are considering replacing their fleets of ageing multi-mission helicopters.

With this in mind, the company stands ready to support the UK Government with its intention to procure a New Medium Helicopter as outlined in the recent UK Government Defence Command Paper. 

Military First

Leonardo Helicopters has been building military aircraft for over 100 years and this experience and expertise is evident in the quality of all the company’s products. Building on a wealth of military manufacturing heritage, the AW149 has been designed in line with the same military expectations as other military products in the Leonardo portfolio, including high-end warfighting aircraft, such as the AW159 and the AW101. The AW149 is the latest addition to this military portfolio, and the new medium solution for modern armed forces.

 The AW149 was designed from the outset as a military helicopter and in 2013 the aircraft received certification from the Italian Directorate of Air Armaments (ARMAEREO). The AW149 has a ruggedized cabin with cabin roof and floor attachment points for military crashworthy folding seats, internal cargo and restraints, stretchers and medical equipment - the aircraft is suited to the demands and multitude of operations of military users.

The AW149 is equipped with a military NVG compatible cockpit, internal, and external lighting to enable crews to operate in day or night conditions, therefore not limiting theatre operations.

With the aircraft’s military standard avionics and systems architecture, which is based on the international AW101 platform, combined with the AW149’s military communications systems which include secure V/UHF, HF, SATCOM, Tactical SATCOM, and Tactical Datalinks – the pilot and crew have the latest generation of on-board technologies to allow them to perform complex missions effectively.

There are structural provisions for a wide range of military mission equipment including defensive aids, fast roping, crew served weapons, external weapon carriers etc. Furthermore, other key military capabilities include self-sealing ballistic tolerant fuel tanks, cockpit floor and door armour to protect pilot and co-pilot, and cabin floor and wall ballistic protections.

Safety Always

Safety is at the heart of what Leonardo does and is inherent to the design of the AW149. The helicopter has been designed with a number of inherent safety features.

The AW149 has:

  • 50-minute run dry Main and Tail Rotor Gearboxes following total loss of lubrication, compared to the industry standard of 30 minutes. Fifty minutes approximately equates to a range of 100nm in the event of total MGB oil loss. In a hostile location, 100nm provides crucial ability to get clear of conflict and seek the nearest forward operating base
  • Engine fire detection and suppression system
  • Engine burst containment
  • Dual redundant electrical and hydraulic systems
  • Crashworthy fuel system
  • Emergency undercarriage deployment
  • Airframe structural load path redundancy

The AW149 is designed to survive small arms fire with high levels of ballistic tolerance, and when equipped with the optional Defensive Aids suite, it enables the detection, classification and suppression of threats.  

The AW149 incorporates ballistic tolerant design features to support operations in hostile environments and protect the crew following engagement by small arms fire:

  • Ballistic self-sealing fuel tanks
  • Multiple load paths in the airframe structure and rotor system
  • Cabin and cockpit armoured floor and crew seat protection

The helicopter can be equipped with a scalable defensive aids suite, consisting of passive and active systems, that provide operators with class-leading protection from multiple threats. These include:

  • Radar Warning Receiver
  • Missile Warning System
  • Laser Warning Receiver
  • Electronic Countermeasure Dispensing System
  • Direct IR Countermeasure 

"Big Aircraft, small footprint"

With its large, unobstructed and uniform cabin volume, in-flight access to additional tail storage, large aft-sliding cabin doors on either side, and a low floor sill (but high belly clearance); the AW149 is optimised to accommodate mission operations with up to 19 troops as efficiently as possible.

The AW149 is a versatile multirole platform, which is capable of completing a wide range of primary and secondary tasks. Many of these secondary roles can be achieved through leveraging modular role equipment and rapid reconfiguration within the cabin.

 Mission capability for this platform ranges from internal and external cargo movement, to high intensity Special Forces operations. The advanced avionics package and sensor suite enable sophisticated C2ISR performance, and the easily accessible, unobstructed main cabin can be rapidly reconfigured with a variety of equipment kits that enable the aircraft to adapt to a changing mission set to provide an effective solution.

Power Platform

 Prepared for the harshest environments, the AW149 comes ready to deliver expansive and reliable OEI performance. Equipped with either the GE CT7-2E1 or the Safran Aneto-1K engines, the platform is capable of providing generous and unrestrained amounts of power whenever needed. OEI performance of the AW149 satisfies the most stringent EASA/FAA OEI requirements.

 Capable of operating in extreme conditions and utilising the latest Safran Aneto-1K engines, the AW149 offers class leading Hot and High performance. When specified with the optional Full Ice Protection System, the helicopter has the ability to operate in known snow and icing conditions.

 The AW149 also features a standard Safran “e-APU60 model 342” Auxiliary Power Unit (APU),

electronically controlled and installed between the two engines, that provides: the ability to run the systems (air conditioning and heating system, avionics and electromechanical equipment) through the APU with engines OFF and rotors stopped; and the ability to run the APU in flight, generating additional electrical power, if required, to back up standard electrical power generation.



The AW149 is an established product that is performing in extreme environments around the globe.  It is evident that there are ageing battlefield helicopter fleets coming to the end of their service life, and these can be replaced by the AW149 – a cost-effective, ready to serve helicopter with experience.

Leonardo conservatively estimates that the global market for the AW149 is around 500 aircraft. The UK MoD’s New Medium Helicopter requirement is in the immediate future and Leonardo stands by to support this need. If the UK MoD purchases the helicopter, it will be a great endorsement for further export opportunities.

A British-made AW149 multi-role helicopter is Leonardo’s proposal to be the UK’s New Medium Helicopter. Choosing the Leonardo AW149 as the UK’s next military helicopter will pave the way for a cutting-edge new production line in Yeovil. It will support thousands of jobs in the South West.

 Furthermore, it would be an investment in UK skills and research, UK design and manufacturing and UK intellectual property, which would maintain the nation’s sovereign skills base, boost exports and the economy and help, ‘Build Back Better’ in the wake of Covid-19.

 The AW149 fits the bill as a cost-effective, proven, multi-mission medium role helicopter. Leonardo has an active AW149 supply chain and is therefore able to deliver ‘Military off-the-shelf’ aircraft in less than 24 months, prior to the current Puma 2025 out of service date.  Its procurement by the UK, which maintains one of the world’s most widely respected armed forces, would strongly support Leonardo’s international export campaigns.


The AW149 is the latest-generation medium multi-role battlefield helicopter, reconfigurable for a wide range of demanding missions in the most severe operational environments. With its advanced platform and system technologies, equipment and weapons; coupled with unparalleled safety and performance, and high levels of survivability and crashworthiness - the aircraft provides military customers with a highly effective, survivable and cost effective capability. A flexible and upgradable systems architecture enables the rapid and low cost integration of new equipment to meet changing military requirements in an ever-changing battlespace.


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