Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner announced the decision Monday, Sept. 21, to acquire 18 Leonardo AW169M helicopters. The purchase will be made in cooperation with Italy and amounts to approximately 300 million euros. “With this helicopter, we are buying a very efficient and modern vector that will serve not only the security of our soldiers, but also that of the entire population. We are thus investing in Austria’s security“, the Minister emphasized.
Replacing an aging fleet
The new helicopters will replace the « Alouette III » light liaison and transport helicopters, which have been in service since 1967. The latter will have to be retired for technical reasons by the end of 2023. The selection process for the AW169M highlighted the aircraft’s performance, according to the press release: “The AW169M is particularly powerful and is therefore also ideally suited for use in the mountains. Its avionics allow it to fly even at night or in bad weather conditions. The system includes several features that make the helicopter suitable for a variety of missions: For transporting people and equipment, as well as for forest fire suppression, aerial reconnaissance and much more“.
The Ministry of Defence specifies that some of the 18 aircraft ordered will be operated as part of crew training. However, the authority indicates that these aircraft may, if necessary, also be used for operational tasks.