OVERTDEFENCE .COM – By ED NASH – 23 September 2020.
The Austrian Ministry of Defense has announced that they are planning on ordering 18 Leonardo AW169M helicopters.
The cost of the procurement will be 300 million Euros and first delivery is expected mid-2022. A minimum service life of 30 years is expected.
The new helicopters will replace the Alouette III light liaison and transport helicopters currently in use. These have been in service since 1967 and will be retired at the end of 2023 due to age issues.
Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner announced the decision on Monday, saying that:
“With this helicopter we are buying a highly efficient and modern machine that not only serves the safety of our soldiers, but also the safety of the entire population. We are investing in the safety of Austria.”
The AW169M is certainly a more capable aircraft than it’s predecessor. The helicopter is much more powerful and therefore better suited for use in the mountains. Its modern avionics also make it possible to fly at night and in poor weather conditions.
Capable of carrying ten passengers, the Austrians intend to use the AW169Ms for a wide range of missions, not just transporting personnel and materials but also for extinguishing forest fires, aerial reconnaissance and mountain rescue.
Of the purchase, 12 will be based in Aigen/Ennstal primarily as emergency vehicles whilst the other six will be stationed as trainers in Langenlebarn.
The Austrian MoD state that they chose the Leonardo (formerly Augusta-Westland) design over the comparable Bell 429 and Airbus H-145 because that company offered better terms in cooperation in the areas of training, logistics and aircraft operation.
The Austrians also state that though the aircraft will not be armed they will require the new helicopters to be capable of mounting weapon stations that are able to be fitted within hours, should that be necessary. These could include the ability to use advanced missile systems, though the exact specification is still being discussed with the manufacturer.
Other new images are now available, as part of the historical area of the website, related to the Aerospatiale SA316B Alouette III I-BXWA. This was the first helicopter to join Air Walser fleet early in 1997, followed by many Lamas and other interesting Agusta-Bell and Bell helicopters. These images were taken at Trontano Base in March 2005.
A look back at the maiden flight of the high-altitude helicopter that broke barriers.
The Alouette III SA3160, flown by Jean Boulet and Robert Malus, completed its maiden flight in Bourget on 28 February 1959.
Marignane, 28 February 2019 – Airbus Helicopters NEWS ARTICLE.
This 3rdgeneration Alouette was characterised by its extended cabin capable of holding six passengers alongside the pilot and was equipped with sliding doors. Its main rotor was 11 metres in height, compared to 10.2 metres for the Alouette II and its payload was increased by 250 kg.
A contender for high-altitude flights.
The Alouette III had notched up successes very quickly. On 12 June 1960, the first prototype landed on the summit of Mont Blanc with seven people on board, demonstrating its excellent performance at high altitudes. Some months later, on 6 November 1960, the 2nd prototype landed on the summit of the Deo Tibba mountain in the Himalayas at an altitude of more than 6,000 m during a demonstration in India. During a demonstration tour in Africa, the Alouette III landed on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, some 6,000 metres above sea level on 18 February 1973 and then on the summit of Mount Kenya, 5,500 m above sea level, a few days later. The helicopter quickly established itself as a helicopter capable of flying at very high altitudes.
A worldwide success story.
The first aircraft of this series was delivered to Burma on 25 July 1961. The Alouette III was the first helicopter for which the serial manufacturing process took place entirely in Marignane, France. More than 1,400 aircraft were manufactured for 120 customers in 80 countries, including South Africa, Portugal and the Netherlands. In turn, France ordered 180 aircraft for its armed forces and para-public services. The Alouette III was also manufactured under license in India, under the name ‘Chetak’, in Pakistan, Romania and in Switzerland, with a total of more than 600 prototypes.
The Alouette III fleet accumulated more than 7 million flight hours by the end of 2018. Today, nearly 180 aircraft still continue to be in service.
Sud-Aviation SA316B Alouette III Elitecnica Italiana I-ELTO … Champoluc (AO), August 1988. Unfortunately this Alouette crashed on date 22 December 2001 at Rocchetta di Vara (SP) – See ASN accident report.
Sud-Aviation SA316B Alouette III Eli Alpi I-LESY … operating on behalf of ACI Elisoccorso – Regione Piemonte, landing at Borgosesia Hospital (VC), December 1989. The helicopter was still wearing the previous Rhein-Heli color scheme.
The Alouette III I-JANS was registered in Italy at the end of 1999 and operated with ETI 2000 from company’s mainbase in Qart (AO). For a short period was also operated by Air Walser (leased from ETI 2000) in Southern Italy during Etna Volcano eruption in 2002 and from their mainbase in Trontano (VB).