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DIMDEX 2024: Leonardo showcases AW249 attack helicopter

A model of the AW249 attack helicopter was displayed for the first time at DIMDEX 2024 in Doha. (Janes/Ajay Shankar Pandey)

Leonardo showcased its AW249 attack helicopter with a scale model displayed at the DIMDEX 2024 show held from 4 to 6 March in Doha.

The event marks the first time that the Italian manufacturer has displayed its developmental “heavy” attack helicopter to the public, and comes one-and-half years since the type made its maiden flight in August 2022.

With two prototypes now flying, Leonardo told Janes that it expects a further two to join the flight-test campaign before the end of 2024. The weapons testing phase of the test campaign has now commenced, and Leonardo said at DIMDEX 2024 that the programme is on schedule “and the Italian Army is extremely satisfied with the progress which is being made”.

While being displayed at DIMDEX 2024, Leonardo declined to provide details of export campaigns, except to say, “We believe there is significant potential in the international market for the AW249. We have started showing scale models abroad to help familiarise [potential customers] with this latest technology, and we will keep promoting it across regions.”

Leonardo noted that a key selling point for the AW249 is that it is the only attack helicopter now being developed in the West, and as such the company can build in a big margin of growth into the computers/avionics so the helicopter can receive software updates in the future.

Being developed for the Italian Army, the multimission AW249 will perform roles such as intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR); close air support; aerial escort; and air interdiction.

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