Following yesterday’s local reports that the Austrian government was buying 18 Leonardo AW169M helicopters to replace its ageing Alouette III models, the defense ministry has now confirmed the decision.
The light intermediate twin-engine AW169M that is being built by Italy’s Leonardo will replace the Alouette III, which will retire by 2023 after 56 years of service.
According to the defense ministry, the deal is worth around 300 million euro and will see Leonardo deliver first units by 2022. All 18 should be handed over by 2024. A total of 12 helicopters will be stationed at the Aigen im Ennstal military airport, while six will serve as training helicopters.
The AW169M was chosen over the Bell 429 and Airbus H145M; mainly because of logistical issues as neither Germany (who offered the H145M) nor Canada and the US (who offered the Bell 429) operated the helicopters they offered, the defense ministry added. Germany will be acquiring 60 multi-purpose helicopters in the future but is yet to confirm its decision on the helicopter type that it will buy.
Powered by two Pratt&Whitney PW201A engines, the AW169M has a maximum takeoff weight of 4,600 kg and a top speed of 284 km/h. It can transport 10 passengers.
Thanks to the power and modularity offered by the AW169M, Austria will be able to use the helicopter not only for military operations but also for firefighting and search and rescue missions, in addition to avalanche control missions in the Alps.