Federal army helicopter: government-to-government variant

Bundeswehr helicopter: government-to-government variant

The 100 AW169. Image © Leonardo

In its biggest investment in armaments since the Eurofighter, Austria is turning its back on Airbus, preferring to buy from Italy

In the late 1480s, the Italian Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci drew a "Helix Pteron" – a propeller that was to fly on the same principle as the helicopters of today. These are produced, among others, by the Italian state-owned rustic company Leonardo. Its AW169M multi-role helicopter will be used in the future not only by the Italian Army, but also by the Austrian Armed Forces.

Aerospatiale SA-319s to be phased out

The 18 new helicopters will replace French Aerospatiale SA-319s, which will be phased out in 2023. Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner of the People’s Party made the announcement at a press conference yesterday.

The AW169M was developed on the basis of the AW169 rescue helicopters used primarily in the United Kingdom. The proliferation there also has to do with the fact that a Leonardo predecessor corporation acquired the British company Westland Helicopter. But technology from there also flowed into the twin-engine AW169M from the Polish PZL Świdnik, which was also acquired. Of the rescue helicopters, the 4 are different.600 kilograms and powered by engines from the Canadian company Pratt Whitney-equipped military aircraft, including a skid landing gear that replaced a retractable landing gear.

Extinguishing fires and transporting sick and injured people

The fact that the new military helicopter is based on a rescue helicopter does not seem to have negatively influenced the Austrian decision. On the contrary, Tanner made a special point in her announcement that the devices would not only deter enemies for at least 30 years, but also extinguish fires and transport the sick and injured. It is an advantage that the new helicopters carry three times as much water as the French helicopters "Larks". Among other advantages, she mentioned the good mountain capability and the ability to fly in bad weather.

Ihren eigenen Worten nach folgt Tanner mit der Entscheidung fur Leonardo der "clear and only" Recommendation of her general staff. The latter’s spokesman, Robert Brieger, explained that the AW169M was the most expensive of the models under discussion, at around 300 million euros all-inclusive, but that all offers had been accepted "value-free tested". The American-Canadian Bell 429 was not recommended because it is used by other armed forces "not imported", was why problems were feared in the training of pilots.

"Different interests in maintenance"

Airbus, on the other hand, had not been able to meet the time requirements of the Austrians. In addition "Different interests when it comes to maintenance" (cf. Bundeswehr contracts prohibit it from repairing weapons …).

Tanner showed himself "happy" The General Staff recommended that the new helicopters carry three times as much water as the French ones (cf "Attitudes toward Airbus" was "known" (cf. osterreich prufte Eurofighter levy to Indonesia). The purchase of the Eurofighter 17 years ago had "showed how it should not be done". He said that they had learned from this and had opted for an "Government-to-Government-"Deal decided. The allegedly "dubious practices" Tanner expressed his preference because the government in Vienna is not negotiating with representatives of private companies, but with another government: the one in Rome. They simply order the Austrian helicopters in the order for their own forces.

Neos criticize dispute with Airbus, SPo and FPo satisfied

Defense spokesman Douglas Hoyos of the opposition Neos criticized this approach: According to him, the Austrian government "with the Airbus controversy in the apron itself around an alternative brought", why "the decision was made in favor of the most expensive type" be.

For Robert Laimer, the defense spokesman for the Social Democrats, the decision for the 100 AW169, on the other hand, is the right one, because it is a government-to-government business "without the lobbyists, commissions and alleged bribes known from the Eurofighter procurement". For the sake of transparency, however, Tanner should provide more data on the individual offers. Norbert Hofer of the FPo was even more satisfied: "Turkis-Grun", says the party leader, "implements liberal defense policy with helicopter procurement".

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