Leonardo and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa S.A. are close to formalising an agreement to collaborate on developing a new combat helicopter aiming to meet the Polish Army’s requirement.
According to Leonardo’s statement on 11 July, companies signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) that will see the two companies collaborate on the AW249 new combat helicopter.
“Leonardo and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa S.A. (PGZ) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) that will see the two companies collaborate on the AW249, the only new combat helicopter currently being designed, aiming to meet the Polish Army’s requirement for a new combat helicopter,” – said in the announcement.
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.
Thanks to this collaboration, Poland’s defence industry will have the unique opportunity to participate in a brand new helicopter development programme, while at the same time contributing to the modernization plans of the Polish Armed Forces with a new state-of-the-art platform.
Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said: “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. 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.”
Jakub Skiba, President of the Management Board of PGZ, said: “Today’s agreement opens up new opportunities for PGZ Companies in the Aviation Domain. 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 all the latest technology developments in its market segment and will benefit from the extensive operational expertise logged by Leonardo’s AW129 and the know-how of the Company in this specific helicopter sector.
With a MTOW in the range of 7-8 tonne and useful load in excess of 1800kgs, the AW249 will have speed and endurance that is able to sustain the most difficult close air support and armed escort operations. 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 & high and maritime).