Leonardo unveils new AW249 attack helicopter at Eurosatory 2024

By Defence Industry Europe

At the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris, Italian defence company Leonardo introduced its new attack helicopter, the AW249, developed in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Defence.


The AW249 is designed for various missions, including aerial escort, close air support, combat attack, and reconnaissance. It boasts a payload capacity of 2,800 kilograms (6,170 pounds) and is equipped with a diverse array of weaponry, such as guided and unguided 70 mm rockets, air-to-air infrared-guided missiles, and air-to-ground radiofrequency or fiber optic-guided missiles. Additionally, it features a 20 mm 3-barrel cannon with an advanced helmet display system for precise targeting.

Key to the AW249’s versatility is its complete open architecture, allowing for significant growth and adaptation to meet market demands. It is fully integrated and interoperable across modern multi-domain battlefields, including air, land, sea, space, and cyber environments. The helicopter’s advanced cockpit includes a large area display, human-machine interface, touch screen, and gesture recognition devices, along with a sophisticated Leonardo-developed Battle Management System. This system provides the crew with critical information on flight, navigation, and mission parameters via multiple sensors and advanced connectivity.



The AW249 can perform a range of missions, including aerial escort, close air support, close combat attack, and air interdiction. It can also serve as an information acquisition element within a C4 system (ISTAR), using its surveillance systems to scan the territory, identify ground units, and disseminate information to the Command & Control Centre. This capability leverages advanced crewed-uncrewed teaming opportunities.

Equipped with powerful engines, the AW249 operates effectively in extreme conditions, including shipboard environments. Its flexible weapon system includes guided and unguided 70 mm rockets, air-to-air infrared-guided missiles, air-to-ground radiofrequency or fiber optic-guided missiles, and a 20 mm 3-barrel Gatling gun. The helicopter’s survivability is enhanced by an advanced Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS), armoured seats, ballistic-tolerant fuel tanks, crashworthiness, and low detectability, coupled with superior situational awareness provided by its navigation and sensor-fusion capabilities.

The AW249 is also being developed with digital simulation capabilities and a state-of-the-art technical support and training service approach, including high-fidelity mission simulation, virtual reality, and prescriptive maintenance through data gathering and analysis.



Powered by two General Electric CT7-8E6 turboshaft engines, each providing around 2,500 shaft horsepower, the AW249 boasts a maximum cruise speed of 287 kilometers per hour and a maximum operational range of 796 kilometers.

Leonardo announced that the production contract for the first batch of AW249 helicopters is expected to be signed soon, with the first helicopter slated for delivery to the Italian Army in 2027.



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