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Poland clears AW149 helicopters for operations

With three of 32 AW149 helicopters so far received, Poland has cleared the type for operations. (Armaments Agency)

Poland has formally cleared for operational use the first of the Leonardo AW149 armed battlefield utility helicopters it has received.

The Armaments Agency (AA) made the announcement on 5 January, saying that with deliveries of 32 helicopters ongoing, the AW149s so far received “passed all required tests and acceptances and have been approved for operation”.

With three helicopters received to date, the AW149 is now being fielded by the Polish Army's 25th Air Cavalry Brigade.

The AW149 is replacing the Mil Mi-2 ‘Hoplite' and some PZL-Świdnik W-3PL Głuszec multirole battlefield helicopters, and will be armed with Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles. Deliveries are scheduled to run until 2029.

As noted by Janes All the World's Aircraft: Development & Production , the AW149 has a length of 17.57 m (including tail rotor turning), a height of 5.06 m (including tail rotor turning), a width of 3.02 m, and a wheelbase of 4.79 m. It also has a rotor diameter of 14.6 m, an internal cabin volume of 11.2 m³, and a baggage area of 2.4 m³. The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 8.6 tonnes and a payload of approximately 2.8 tonnes. Performance specifications include a top speed of 155 kt, a range of 563 n miles, and a hovering ceiling of 5,800 ft (out of ground effect). The AW149 has seating for 18 passengers, or 12 fully equipped troops.

Besides Poland, the AW149 is flown by the armed forces of Egypt and Thailand. It is also one of the platforms being bid to the UK for its New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement.

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