Commits to New Exploration and Escort Helicopter
Leonardo has received two new contracts from the Italian MoD National Armaments Directorate, with an aggregate value of €500 million: one for an initial batch of five M-345 trainer aircraft, the second for the first development phase of the new exploration and escort helicopter (NEES) for the Italian Army.
The M-345 will supplement the fleet of 18 M-346 already in Italian Air Force service for advanced pilot training. The service has a requirement for about 45 of the new aircraft in total, (designated T-345) to replace the fleet of 137 MB-338 delivered from 1982. The first delivery is expected by 2019.
The multi-year contract for the new NEES covers the study, development, industrialisation, production and testing of a prototype and three initial production aircraft. Through this new programme, based on a total requirement for 48 units, the Italian Army will be able to replace the current fleet of AW129 which are expected to be retired from service by 2025 following over 35 years in operations. NEES will benefit from the long operational expertise the army has gained with the AW129 and will allow the service to introduce an even more technologically advanced product, with greater performance and lower operating costs, to meet emerging needs in evolving scenarios for the next 30 years.
Mauro Moretti, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of Leonardo, said: “The signing of these two contracts is the result of constructive discussions between the Italian government and industry, which helped identify the requirements and the best technological answers. Thanks to this joint understanding, we’ll be able to deliver advanced solutions to our national customer by optimising available financial resources and developing new technologies, skills and industrial processes in our country.”