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Next generation W-3 helicopter concept unveiled in Poland


September 4, 2019
By Helicopters Staff


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Leonardo this week at MSPO 2019 in Poland, through its industrial partner in the Polish helicopter sector PZL-Świdnik, and the Polish Armaments Group, jointly with the Polish aviation industry and R&D centres, are presenting a next-generation multirole military helicopter concept based on a legacy W-3 Sokół platform.

A mock-up of the new generation W-3 concept helicopter’s cockpit will be on display at MSPO 2019. Leonardo explains the new concept could meet the requirements of the Polish Armed Forces for a new generation of Battlefield Support helicopters. The collaborative project oversees a major modification of the W-3 platform. which is the basis of the helicopter fleet of the Polish Armed Forces.

The development group is leveraging tested technologies available on the market for the new concept, which does not compromise the Polish military needs through the guarantee of shorter delivery times, high level of reliability and savings in terms of the acquisition and operating costs.

Leonardo explains helicopter will be equipped with new blades and main rotor and a fully digital avionics system, covering a glass cockpit, Flight Management System (FMS), Synthetic Vision System (SVS), digital maps and Terrain Avoidance Warning System (TAWS), as well as a 4-axis digital autopilot, new communication system, an Engine FADEC and Health & Usage Monitoring System (HUMS). The helicopter will also include an additional 200 kg of useful load (owing to an increase from 6,400 kg to 6,600 kg MTOW).

“A key significance in the development of the new generation W-3 concept helicopter is through the transfer of technology with a view to guarantee to clients the operational autonomy and the broadest possible involvement of Polish industry,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters MD: “Particularly, the major role of our long-term partner, the Polish Armaments Group and companies belonging to it, which will be involved to a high degree in all phases of the project starting with the design, through to development, and the production which will support the helicopter into the future.”

This concept further highlights the stringent global standard capabilities of the Polish aviation industry and how it can meet the battlefield demands of the Polish Armed Forces as well as the mission needs of the Polish military end-users. The type will meet latest requirements of NATO countries to remain in service for another 30 years and overcome what Leondardo describes as a design generation gap between previous and latest generation systems. The venture will also see a significant technology transfer from Leonardo to PZL-Świdnik which, in turn, will enable the Polish aviation industry to further consolidate its growth domestically.

The next generation W-3 helicopter will provide the Polish Armed Forces with advanced battlefield support capabilities through a wide range of mission equipment, covering fully integrated armaments system [Air-to-Air missiles, Anti-tank missiles, 70mm rocket pods, cannon pods (12.7/20 mm), machine gun installed in a cabin] and an Integrated Defensive Aids System, an Electro Optical Surveillance System, NVG Compatibility and Head Up Display.

The helicopter will be able to perform a wide range of missions: troop transport, Special Forces insertion/extraction, CSAR, Intelligence, Surveillance and Armed Reconnaissance, MEDEVAC/CASEVAC.

PZL-Świdnik is a Polish helicopter manufacturer with more than 65 years of experience in the industry, manufacturing of over 7400 helicopters for customers in over 40 countries. PZL-Świdnik is a core partner of the Polish Ministry for National Defence: almost 160 PZL-Świdnik-made helicopters are in service with the Polish Armed Forces of which approximately 70 W-3 units. Almost 80 per cent of all helicopters delivered to the Polish Armed Forces in recent years have been designed in Świdnik (SW-4 Puszczyk, W-3PL Głuszec and W-3WA Sokół, including VIP configuration for transportation of top-ranking state officials).

PZL-Świdnik currently has approximately 3000 employees, including more than 650 engineers, and cooperates with over 800 Polish enterprises. Leonardo is also present in many other major military programs in Poland; this concerns M-346 Bielik trainer for the Polish Air Force or Rosomak program for the Polish Army implemented in cooperation with PGZ. Leonardo has also supplied several defence and security systems, such as the ground segment of the Italian observation satellites, COSMO-SkyMed, early warning radars and coastal surveillance systems, which greatly improve Poland’s security.

Polish Armaments Group (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa, PGZ) is one of the largest defence corporations in Europe. It brings together more than 50 companies of key importance to the Polish defence industry: factories, maintenance facilities, and research centres. It employs more than 18,000 people and generates more than 5.5 billion PLN of annual revenue.