WARSAW ($1=4.50 Polish Zlotys) — Poland has decided to invest nearly 2 billion USD [$1.83B] for the acquisition of 32 multi-role military attack helicopters model AW149 – designed and manufactured by one of the world leaders in this field, Leonardo. The information came from Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak on Friday [July 1st] citing the situation in Europe and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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In 2023, Leonardo will have to deliver the first batch of helicopters to Warsaw, with neither side specifying the quantity. The agreement between the Polish Ministry of Defense and the Italian manufacturer covers personnel training and maintenance of the air vehicles.
What armament will the Polish AW149 helicopter receive?
The AW149 is a new helicopter that received its military license in 2014. A quick review of his combat capabilities shows that he is a piece of art.
Mariusz Blaszczak specified on Friday that the Polish helicopters come with anti-tank missiles. But this is a very small part of the AW149’s armament capabilities. By default, the helicopter is equipped with surveillance and targeting systems. During missions, the AW149 operates with a 4 axis digital automatic fire control system.
The AW149 can be armed with two sniper rifles to the side windows of the cabin, two 7.62mm machine guns to the side doors or the cabin, two 12.7mm gun pods or 2 x 20mm gun pods, two 2.75” rocket launchers for unguided or guided missiles and two air to ground missile launchers.
The AW149 has an electro-optic/infra-red [EO/IR] sensor with an optional laser range finder/designator. The helicopter is equipped with a mission console providing tactical processing, link management, and C2/ISR.
AW149 key features
The AW149 can transport up to 19 marines or soldiers. Very often, however, the military version is developed to transport up to 10 people without the aircraft’s crew of two pilots. No word yet on what configuration Poland has chosen.
The AW149 features a large cabin – 3.47m [l] x 2.43m [w] x 1.42m [h], cabin volume 11.2 m3. Depending on the configuration and the customer’s wishes, the helicopter can be powered in two different ways: two General Electric CT7-2E1 Turboshafts with FADEC [2,000 shp class each] and one Safran e-APU [60 kW] or two Safran Aneto engines -1K Turboshafts with FADEC [2,500 shp class each] and one Safran e-APU [60 kW].
The Italian aircraft has many key advantages, such as NVG compatible cockpit display system with four 8” x 10” color displays, aircraft monitoring and management system, communication system, navigation system, digital maps, and tactical data display, identification systems, enhanced vision systems, flight management system [FMS] function, cockpit voice & flight data recorder, NVG lighting [internal/external], integrated health monitoring system, standby information system, HIRF/LEMP/EMC resistant system, etc.
Poland and others
Poland will become the third country to acquire this helicopter. Before her, this was already done by the police and army of Thailand and the navy of Egypt. These are the main operators, but Italy has also acquired a small amount of this helicopter.
The AW149 was proposed as the next helicopter of the Royal Air Force of Great Britain. For the British, Leonardo offered the same functionalities, but with some improvements, such as the integration of radar, as found in the SAAB Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, as well as laser devices integrated into the American fighter of the fifth-generation F-35.
Poland intended 2016 to acquire a large quantity of Airbus Caracal transport helicopters for more than 3 billion USD but gave up, terminating negotiations with the company. In modern Poland, it operates four S-70i Black Hawk transport helicopters and four Leonardo AW101 multi-role helicopters.
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