Africa Aerospace & Defence 2016

Multi-use helicopter [AAD16D3]

16 September 2016

Formerly AgustaWestland, Leonardo’s helicopter business is promoting the AW149 military helicopter to a number of nations.

Among them is South Africa, for which Leonardo suggests that the AW149 is a potential replacement for the ageing Oryx fleet. The 8.6- tonne AW149 occupies a unique niche in the helicopter spectrum, sitting between smaller helicopters such as the AW139, and larger military helicopters.

Leonardo (Hangar 3, Stand CW26) has developed the AW149 from the very successful AW139 civil helicopter. Although there is an AW139M military version, the AW149 is a larger machine that offers 40 per cent more volume than the 139, yet is only 1m longer.

In the trooping role, the AW149 can carry 12 fully equipped soldiers, or 10 when door guns are fitted. Alternatively, 19 passengers can be carried on crashworthy seats. A useful load of more than 3.5 tonnes can be accommodated.

Two General Electric CT7-2E1 turboshafts power the AW149, widely separated to minimise the effects of battle damage to one engine. The rotors employ advanced features such as sweptback tip for better high-speed performance, and turned-down tips to improve hovering performance in hot-and-high conditions. The fuselage is made from a mix of advanced composites, with titanium over the engine bays. The fuel tanks are arranged in a ‘U’ section, allowing extra cabin length between them, or alternatively space for an extended-range tank.

With a flat-floor cabin measuring 2.43m wide, 3.47m long and 1.42m high, the AW149 offers a total volume of 13.6m3 without the extended-range tank fitted. The cabin can be configured for many roles, including aeromedical evacuation and surveillance work with an operator console behind the flight deck.

An external weapons system has been devised for the AW149, allowing a variety of forward-firing weapons, such as gun pods, rocket pods and guided missiles, to be carried.

(300 words)