Leonardo Debuts All-new AW-249 Military Helicopter at Eurosatory 2024

AW-249 is the first and only all-new Western combat helicopter design
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 09:59 AM, June 21, 2024
  • 1258
Leonardo Debuts All-new AW-249 Military Helicopter at Eurosatory 2024
AW249 helicopter @Leonardo

Leonardo has unveiled the AW-249, the Italian Army's new combat helicopter, at the Eurosatory 2024 exhibition in Paris.

The AW-249, the first and only all-new Western combat helicopter design, incorporates digitization, connectivity, sensor-fusion, information superiority, and interoperability features.

The AW-249, also designated as AH-249A NEES (Nuovo Elicottero da Esplorazione e Scorta) and known as the ‘Fenice,’ had its international public premiere on June 18. This helicopter is the result of a strong collaboration between the Italian Ministry of Defence and Leonardo.

The AW-249 features a complete open architecture with growth and system/capability adaptation potential to meet demanding market requirements. Core to the AW-249 is its ability to be integrated and interoperable in the modern multi-domain battlefield (air-land-sea-space-cyber). The helicopter is equipped with a large area display human-machine interface, touch screen/gesture recognition devices in the tandem-seating cockpit and Leonardo-developed Battle Management System. Displays and a modern pilot helmet enable the crew to access critical information on flight, navigation and the mission provided by multiple sensing and connectivity. The AW249 can perform a variety of missions including aerial escort, close air support, close combat attack and air interdiction. The helicopter can also act as the information acquisition element of a C4 system (ISTAR), using the surveillance systems (either its own or the ones of cooperating units) to scan the territory, identify ground units (both friend and foe) for its own use or to disseminate the information through a secure channel to the Command & Control Centre.

Leonardo Debuts All-new AW-249 Military Helicopter at Eurosatory 2024

The AW249 is equipped with a weapon system that includes guided and unguided 70mm rockets, air-to-air infrared guided missiles, and air-to-ground radio frequency or fibre optic guided missiles in addition to a 20mm 3-barrell Gatling gun. Its survivability leverages on an Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS), together with armoured seats and ballistic tolerant fuel tanks, crashworthiness and low detectability and in addition to the situational awareness delivered by its navigation and sensor-fusion ability.

The AW249 is being developed also with digital simulation capabilities and a technical support and training service approach in mind, benefitting from high fidelity mission simulation and virtual reality and prescriptive maintenance via data gathering and analysis, among others. With a maximum take-off weight of 8.3 ton, the AW249 is being developed to replace the Italian Army’s AW129 fleet which is nearing the end of its life-cycle.

An AW249 prototype carried out its maiden flight in summer 2022. Four prototypes have been built since then, with two flying aircraft involved in performance, system integration and payload testing and two more now completed and to start testing soon. The production contract is expected soon, with deliveries to the Italian Army to begin in 2027.

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