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Leonardo-PGZ: LoI signed on the new AW-249 helicopter

Aiming to meet the Polish Army’s requirement for a new combat aircraft

Leonardo and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa SA (PGZ) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) that will see the two companies collaborate on the AW-249, the "only" new combat helicopter currently being designed, aiming to meet the Polish Army’s requirement for a new combat aircraft.

With this LoI, both companies will explore collaboration in a number of areas including design, manufacturing, final assembly, marketing and aftersales support for the AW-249 helicopter.

The document reinforces PGZ and Leonardo’s common interest in the development and production of a new combat helicopter, created for the needs of the Italian Army, and its Polish variant which is being considered under Poland’s "Kruk" procurement.

Thanks to this collaboration, Poland’s defence industry will have the unique opportunity to participate in a brand new helicopter development programme, while at the same time contributing to the modernization plans of the Polish Armed Forces with a new state-of-the-art platform.

The AW-249 will feature all the latest technology developments in its market segment and will benefit from the extensive operational expertise logged by Leonardo’s
AW-129 and the know-how of the Company in this specific helicopter sector.

"With a MTOW in the range of 7-8 tonne and useful load in excess of 1800kgs, the AW-249 will have speed and endurance that is able to sustain the most difficult close air support and armed escort operations. The aircraft will feature state-of-the-art communication and battlefield management systems; its mission system is able to operate and manage UAVs and features a number of situational awareness aids to reduce pilot workload and increase safety. Additionally, thanks to its advanced technologies and design philosophy, the model will have significant improvements in life-cycle costs over previous generation helicopters", according to a note issued by the industry.

In addition to a turreted gun, the AW-249 will have a flexible weapon system with six wing store stations that can carry a combination of air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles, unguided/guided rockets or external fuel tanks. Two powerful engines will allow for operations in all environmental conditions (cold, hot & high and maritime).

Both industries have an established dialogue on defence and security industrial cooperation, with multiple agreements signed in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The aim of these agreements is to strengthen cooperation between the PGZ Group and Leonardo, particularly in relation to the helicopters offered by Leonardo to the Polish Ministry of Defence. Should Leonardo be selected by the Polish MoD for the new helicopter requirements, companies in the PGZ Group will take part in the manufacture and servicing of helicopters.

Leonardo signed a multiyear contract with the Italian Ministry of Defence in January 2017, aimed at meeting the requirement of the Italian Army to replace the current fleet of AW-129s, which are expected to be retired from service by 2026 following over 35 years in operations. "It will allow the service to introduce an even more technologically advanced product, with greater performance and lower operating costs, to meet arising needs in evolving scenarios for the next 30 years", the note concluded.

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