Leonardo AW249 Makes First Flight

 - August 28, 2022, 1:25 PM
New two-seat Leonardo AW249 attack helicopter—a successor to the AW129 Mangusta—made its first flight on August 12 at the company’s Vergiate, Italy, facility.

Leonardo’s AW249 attack helicopter made its first flight on August 12 at the company’s Vergiate facility in Italy. Production aircraft will be powered by a pair of 2,500-shp GE CT700 engines, equipped with AW149 dynamic components, and have an mtow in the 15,600 to 17,600-pound range.

Designed as a replacement for the AW129 Mangusta, the helicopter will be capable of conducting net-centric operations, including unmanned aerial vehicle pairing and advanced battlespace management. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2025. 

Features include a run-dry drive system, ballistic-tolerant fuel tanks, armored seats, crashworthy airframe, and a weapons suite. The weapons suite features six wing stations for air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles, unguided/guided rockets, and external fuel tanks, along with wing stores capable of carrying mixed/asymmetric weapon loads. The AW249 also is equipped with a 20-mm nose-mounted turreted gun.

Leonardo said the AW249 has more offensive power, is more survivable, and will have lower life-cycle costs than previous-generation helicopters. The Italian Army is expected to take 48 AW249s to replace its fleet of Mangustas. In 2018, Leonardo agreed to collaborate with the Polish Armaments Group to offer the AW249 in the competition for Poland’s Kruk combat helicopter. Part of that offer involved producing components for the helicopter at Leonardo’s PZL-Swidnik subsidiary in Poland. However, earlier this year the Polish military shortlisted the Boeing AH-64 Apache and Bell AH-1Z Viper.