Leonardo and PGZ sign letter of intent on AW249
Leonardo and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa S.A. (PGZ) recently signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) that will see the two companies collaborate on the AW249, a new combat helicopter currently being designed, aiming to meet the Polish Army’s requirement for a new combat helicopter.
With this LoI, both companies will explore collaboration in a number of areas including design, manufacturing, final assembly, marketing and aftersales support for the AW249 helicopter.
The document reinforces PGZ and Leonardo’s common interest in the development and production of a new combat helicopter, created for the needs of the Italian Army, and its Polish variant which is being considered under Poland’s Kruk procurement programme.
“This agreement is a significant milestone in the on-going cooperation between Italian and Polish defence industries, involving the latter in the most important ongoing combat helicopter programme,” Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said. “Leonardo, through PZL-Swidnik, has been working with the Polish Ministry of National Defence for years and this agreement opens new avenues of response to the Kruk programme, allowing us to address the future of Polish defence alongside PGZ.”
“Today’s agreement opens up new opportunities for PGZ Companies in the Aviation Domain,” Jakub Skiba, President of the Management Board of PGZ, continued. “Cooperation with Italian industry in the joint development of solutions for our Armed Forces in the “Kruk” programme will allow us to expand our capabilities and involve our companies – in close cooperation with Leonardo’s PZL-Swidnik plant – in the AW249 programme. This high technology programme, led by Leonardo, will be also promoted in further markets.”
The AW249 will feature state-of-the-art communication and battlefield management systems; its mission system is able to operate and manage UAVs and features a number of situational awareness aids to reduce pilot workload and increase safety. Additionally, thanks to its advanced technologies and design philosophy, the AW249 will have significant improvements in life-cycle costs over previous generation helicopters.
In addition to a turreted gun, the AW249 will have a flexible weapon system with six wing store stations that can carry a combination of air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles, unguided/guided rockets or external fuel tanks. Two powerful engines will allow for operations in all environmental conditions (cold, hot and high and maritime).
Should Leonardo be selected by the Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the new helicopter requirements, companies in the PGZ Group will take part in the manufacture and servicing of helicopters.
Leonardo signed a multiyear contract with the Italian MoD in January 2017, aimed at meeting the requirement of the Italian Army to replace the current fleet of AW129s, which are expected to be retired from service by 2026 following over 35 years in operations. It will allow the service to introduce an even more technologically advanced product, with greater performance and lower operating costs, to meet arising needs in evolving scenarios for the next 30 years.