The Italian Army’s two AW169 basic training twin engine helicopters, designated as UH-169B, have set an important milestone by accruing 1,000 flight hours in operation. The type has been in service with the Italian Army since July 2020 when the first aircraft was delivered to the 2nd Army Aviation Regiment ‘Sirio’ based in Lamezia Terme in Southern Italy, followed by the second helicopter a few months afterwards.
Leonardo explains the introduction of its latest generation training helicopter allows the Italian Army to prepare its crews for the future operational transition. This will include an all-new advanced multirole Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program, developed from the AW169 dual-use baseline.
The overall AW169 LUH program is based on a multirole configuration with dedicated flight/mission equipment including, among others, skids landing gear, the Leonardo MAIR (Multi Aperture InfraRed) threat warning system and an advanced C4 command, control and communication system to grant full interoperability with other assets in the NATO environment. The Italian Army will initially receive 15 AW169 LUHs starting in 2023.
The two existing AW169 trainers, explains Leonardo, will enable the Italian Army to familiarize itself with the platform’s basic characteristics during the development of the new LUH. These have been supplied with logistical support and a pilot/maintenance technician training package.
The LUH program is aimed at replacing ageing models, including the A109, AB206, AB205, AB212 and AB412 to meet evolving operational requirements. In addition, Leonardo explains the program benefits from a more efficient supply chain based on a ‘one single platform’ approach.
The introduction of the AW169 LUH, specifically developed for the Italian Army, leverages the AW169M military helicopter baseline, while adding unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities across the AW169 fleets of government operators in Italy.
Leonardo has received more than 290 orders and options to date for the AW169, with more than 130 are already in service globally on a range of missions like utility, surveillance, special operations, maritime patrol, land reconnaissance, training, rescue and firefighting.