The Bundesheer, the Austrian Armed Forces, announced on its website on 21 September that it would procure 18 AW169M helicopters in co-operation with Italy. The EUR300 million (USD353.9 million) procurement also includes technology, logistics, training, and infrastructure.
Austria will procure 18 AW169M helicopters in co-operation with Italy. (Bundesheer Fotos)
The Bundesheer said the determining factor in choosing the AW169M was the willingness of Italy to co-operate in all aspects of operating the helicopter. Italy has already ordered 40 of the up to 100 AW169s that it plans to procure, according to the Bundesheer.
Co-operation in operations, training, and logistics would not have been possible with the Bell 429 offered by the United States as its armed forces do not operate the type, the Bundesheer explained. The AW169M will replace Austria's Alouette III helicopters that will be phased out by the end of 2023, which the Bundesheer said would have resulted in a capability gap of several years if it had selected the H145M, which it expected not to be available until 2025 and to be conducting normal flight operations at least a year later. In addition, Germany planned to offer the logistic support of its own industry, complicating co-operation or even making it impossible, according to the Bundesheer.
Austria is expected to begin negotiations with Italy soon, lasting around six months, followed by production lasting around 18 months, with the delivery of the first helicopter in mid-2022, the Bundesheer said.