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AW149 medium class helicopter

The all new AW149, now under development, has been designed to meet a potential Italian Air Force requirement for a new medium class SAR helicopter with certification expected in 2013. The AW149 answers a growing demand for the next generation, affordable, multi-purpose medium class helicopter, for military and government agencies. Fully digitised and with an open systems architecture (OSA) and fully integrated mission equipment, the AW149 is designed for the modern battlefield. With a rugged construction incorporating crashworthy features, such as up to eighteen crashworthy troop seats and excellent access and egress, the AW149 maximises survivability. Twin engines ensure high performance in hot and high conditions. A 4-axis auto-pilot and advanced latest generation avionics system serves to minimise crew work load. The aircraft can also be configured to carry a variety of weapons and stores on external carriers. The AW149 is suited to battlefield support, combat SAR, reconnaissance, surveillance, medical evacuation, search and rescue (SAR) and command and control support roles.

  • BATTLEFIELD SUPPORT The large, unobstructed cabin and baggage compartment provides the capability to accommodate up to 16 troops or 12 fully equipped soldiers. With the external cargo hook, up to 2720 kg / 6000 lb of heavy equipment can be transported to the battlefield. Two large sliding cabin doors and 12.4 cu. m of internal cargo space offer exceptional transport capability.
  • COMMAND AND CONTROL The spacious cabin gives the command staff an unprecedented workspace for C3 dedicated equipment and for 2 workstations.
  • MEDICAL EVACUATION The 3 m long by 2.26 m wide and 1.45 high cabin provides the capability to accommodate 2 to 6 stretchers leaving enough space for 4 attendants and in-flight medical care equipment.
  • SEARCH AND RESCUE - CSAR For Combat Search And Rescue missions a rescue hoist and other specific mission equipment and armaments can be provided. CSAR crew concept envisages 2 pilots plus 2/4 crew members.

The AW149 delivers best-in-class performance, including superior hover performance, a cruise speed in excess of 150kts, a maximum range greater than 650 nm (1,200 km) and endurance of up to 5 hours. With powerful CT7 engines, the AW149 assures superior performance and controllability in extreme hot-and-high environments or harsh conditions, allowing maximum payloads in all challenging operational theatres. The AW149’s exceptional power margin provides even in OEI conditions the performance capability needed to achieve mission success, whatever the mission.

The ergonomic low-workload, high situational awareness Glass Cockpit philosophy is based upon four large Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Displays (8 x 10 inches) with integral input keys and a track ball on the inter-seat console for rapid selection of functions. Mission capabilities are further supported by a state-of-the-art integrated digital avionics system with powerful mission computers. The ARINC 429 and MIL-STD 1553B data bus, enable easy integration of mission equipment for maximum operational effectiveness. The dual channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and 4-axis digital AFCS further contribute to reduced pilot workload and increased situational awareness.

The AW149’s ergonomic cockpit design, outstanding external visibility, excellent handling characteristics and low vibration levels together with innovative instrument solutions minimise pilot fatigue to allow the crew to concentrate on mission objectives. Advanced open avionics architecture, mission processing, tactical displays and data link ensure the AW149 is fully integrated into today’s Network-Enabled operating environment.

The AW149 has a large (11.2 m³), easily-accessible, unobstructed main cabin. It has the capacity to carry heavily laden troops quickly to their drop-off point in support of high tempo operations with all the equipment for the task. The Customer can choose from modular fuel tank options to suit the mission type. The generous 2.4 m³ cargo area can also be made accessible from the main cabin. This enables ready storage for mission equipment such as stretchers and medical kit whilst keeping the troop cabin free of carry on equipment.

The cabin layout can be quickly converted to suit changing tasks, such as CSAR, CASEVAC and troop transport. Options range from an 8-man section in full battle order with section support weapons plus two door gunners to 18 soldiers in ferry configuration. Alternatively, the ample space may be utilised for a wide variety of tailored mission and role equipment including NATO standard litters.

The AW149 has large sliding doors on both sides making the AW149 an excellent platform for rapid boarding and egress. This design ensures fast recovery of stretchers on the ground or in flight using the hoist whilst allowing simultaneous cover fire from window-mounted weapons (7.62mm/ 12.7mm machine gun). Low floor height enables ease of loading and unloading cargo through cabin doors. Hard points enable fast roping and rappelling from both sides of the cabin.

PZL-Swidnik, the Polish company fully owned by Leonardo, was awarded a contract on 02 July 2022 by the Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD) worth 8.25 billion PLN gross (approximately EUR 1.76 billion) for the supply of 32 AW149 multirole helicopters. The state-of-the-art AW149 helicopters will be able to carry out missions including troop transport and air support; the contract also includes logistics, training and simulator packages.

The new helicopters will carry out missions including troop transport and air support. The equipment of the helicopters will also allow them to be used for casualty evacuation, search and rescue in combat operations and for the transport of goods and supplies. The helicopters’ configuration, fully meeting the requirements of the Polish Armed Forces, will also include, among others, observation systems, small arms, guided/unguided rockets and missiles and self-defence systems. The armament, depending on the helicopter variant and configuration, can be installed in the cabin or on the helicopter's external hard points. The deliveries of the helicopters will be made in the 2023-2029 period.

Acting as the prime contractor, PZL-Swidnik will host a local production line for these new helicopters. Leonardo will therefore undertake further investments in its Polish facility in addition to approximately 1 billion EUR already invested since 2010, which has significantly strengthened the competitiveness and the industrial capabilities of PZL-Swidnik. This provides an important contribution to the Polish aerospace and defence industry, which will enable domestic production, the establishment of a logistic base and thorough technical support for the Polish MoD’s AW149s, in line with Leonardo and PZL-Swidnik’s commitment to deliver industrial benefits to Poland.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2022 18:51:07 ZULU