Austria takes delivery of first AW169M
On 21 December 2022, the Austrian Ministry of Defence (MoD) officially took delivery of the first Leonardo AW169B and signed a Government-to-Government (G2G) Agreement amendment on exercising the option for additional aircraft.
In December 2021, Scramble Magazine reported that the Austrian government signed a G2G agreement with Italy for the purchase of eighteen Leonardo AW169s to replace the Bundesheer (Austrian Armed Forces) obsolete fleet of Alouette 3 helicopters. That order is divided in six AW169Bs training variants and twelve AW169MAs advanced multirole variants with integrated mission equipment and weapon systems. The agreement also included an option for the supply of a further twelve AW169MAs and six AW169Bs.
With the signing today, Austria exercised the option for 18 additional AW169s, thus seeing the total number of AW169s growing to 36, divided over 12 AW169B and 24 AW169MA variants. Exercising the option before the year end guaranteed the price level set for the option.
The first AW169B, serial 5M-IA (c/n 72014), arrived in Austria on 13 December 2022 and made some test flights on 20 December.
According to the statements the official handover marks a significant leap forward for Austria, starting a new era in national defence and emergency response capabilities. It also represents an important milestone for Leonardo Helicopters, 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.
Photo by Wolfgang Jarisch