The Leonardo company has announced that the first AW101 destined for the Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej (Polish Navy) (ZR285) achieved its maiden flight at the company’s site in Yeovil (UK) on 19 July 2021.
The production of this AW101 has become possible thanks to the cooperation of companies in the United Kingdom, Poland, and Italy, working together in the Leonardo team.
In the production, PZL-Świdnik of Poland acts as the prime contractor, and is responsible for the entire contract execution, while Leonardo at Yeovil assembles the helicopters.
In April 2019, Leonardo announced that it would supply four AW101s and a comprehensive integrated logistics and training package to the Polish Ministry of National Defence.
The new AW101s will significantly enhance the Polish Navy’s helicopter capability. They will perform a range of missions for the Polish Navy including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR).
The AW101 for the Polish Naval Aviation Brigade will be equipped with the most modern mission systems, including autopilot with SAR modes, data transmission system, tactical navigation system and protection and defense systems (passive and active).
In addition, the AW101 will be equipped with a tactical radio, reconnaissance radar, an observation head (FLIR) and an S-mode transponder. It will also be equipped with a 12.7 mm machine gun.
For SAR purposes, there will be a searchlight and arrayed lights, which will ensure good visibility in all-weather conditions.
The aircraft will be optimized with medical and rescue equipment, including two winches and a system for carrying loads on the external suspension. In addition, the AW101 fleet will be equipped with an emergency float system, life rafts, and a cold climate survival kit.
It is expected that there will be a total of 700 hours of flight testing across the four airframes. During these test flights not only the correct function of each aircraft will be established, but also the correct functioning of customer specific changes from the standard AW101.
Source and photo: Leonardo