Italian Army looks at AW-169M helicopter

Italian Army Esercito AW-169M helicopter
Italian Army looks at the AW-169M helicopter.

The Esercito Italiano (Italian Army) is progressively introducing the modern NH-90 helicopters into its fleet to replace part of the old tactical transport fleet. Although many magazines have written that it is the replacement for the old AB-205s, the Army has long been looking at a new helicopter complementary to the NH-90. The AB-205 is a light weight helicopter with low operating and management costs, while the NH-90 belongs to the 10 ton class, resulting in much higher purchase and operating costs. Currently the Army Units that withdrew the AB-205 have only received the NH-90 and it is reasonable to assume that it is the official substitute, but the total Army fleet still includes many old light helicopters. The Italian defense budget does not allow to replace all of them with the platform developed by NH-Industries.

Its natural substitute is a 4/5 ton class helicopter, able to carry out different missions and operate in high intensity scenarios, equipped with instruments for night flight, self-protection devices and light armor protection.

The Leonardo AW-169M could satisfy all these features. According to the company, the AW169M has been developed to meet the stringent military and civilian certification requirements of military, homeland security and government users. It can be used for a wide range of applications including Troop Transport, Special Forces Insertion/Extraction, Command & Control, Utility, SAR/CSAR, Surveillance, MEDEVAC/CASEVAC and Fire Support. It can be customised with a variety of role equipment, including weapon systems internal (door gunner post 12.7 mm machine gun or two pintle-mounted 7.62 mm machine guns) and external (7,62/12,7 mm machine guns and/or rockets launchers and/or air to ground missiles), defensive aids suite and modular ballistic protection for cockpit and cabin, to fully exploit its multi-role capability in the most demanding environments.

The launch customer of the AW-169M is the Guardia di Finanza (Italian Custom Police) that in November 2018 signed an order for 22 helicopters.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Leonardo

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