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North Macedonia selects Leonardo AW149, AW169M helicopters

Seen here in its company demonstrator form, the Leonardo AW149 has been selected along with the AW169M to replace North Macedonia's ageing Soviet-built helicopter inventory. (Leonardo)

The North Macedonian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (Armija na Republika Severna Makedonija: ARSM) have decided to acquire Italian helicopters to replace the country's Soviet-built airframes.

North Macedonian Defence Minister Slavjanka Petrovska made the announcement on national TV on 22 January, saying four Leonardo AW149 and four AW169M helicopters are to be procured for an estimated EUR330 million (USD359 million).

In securing the North Macedonian tender, Leonardo beat off competition from Airbus with the H145M and H225M, from Bell with the 412M, and from Lockheed Martin with the S-70 Black Hawk. According to Petrovska, the selection was made on the grounds of completeness, pricing, and the logistics and maintenance systems of the aircraft.

A government-to-government (G2G) agreement between North Macedonia and Italy will now be signed, with helicopter deliveries to follow 24–36 months later. North Macedonia's upcoming 8 May parliamentary and presidential elections will not stop the negotiations with Leonardo, Petrovska explained, as the procurement is already approved.

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