|Leonardo AW249 artist impression|
In January 2017 the Italian Army awarded the manufacturer a €487 million contract to develop a successor to the A129 Mangusta. This includes one prototype, three pre-serial examples, and the first production helicopter, all except the prototype in an initial operational capability (IOC) configuration. Introduced in 1990, 59 Mangustas are in service and should be retired from 2025 to be replaced by an order for 48. Of the 59 A129s bought, 32 were in service in 2018.
At the November 2017 Dubai air show, Leonardo indicated it was open for collaboration on the project with other nations, as state-owned Turkish Aerospace Industries could be a partner to develop a successor its Mangusta-derived T129 ATAK.
It is intended to be more survivable and offensive than the Mangusta with digital communications and more autonomy. The Italian Ministry of Defence has required the incorporation of mature technologies such as the OTO Melara TM197B 20mm chin-mounted cannon, RAFAEL Toplite targeting system and Spike missile from the A129, and the transmission and rotors from the AW149 troop transport.
An Italian Army presentation at a 2017 conference in Kraków showed a MTOW of 7-8t, higher than the 5t AW129, to more than double the weapons load from 800kg to almost 2,000kg, and increased cruise speed, ceiling and endurance. Leonardo has indicated the new design will be more stealthy by lowering its radar cross-section and infrared signature. It will use General Electric T700 or Safran Aneto engines, the latter being recently selected for the commercial AW189K.
Data from Defence24
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