In the early years of the last decade of the last century, the Italian army was equipped with a fleet of sixty light attack helicopters of national design and manufacture, the A129 Mangusta, capable of deploying anti-tank missiles and precisely firing its cannon. Forward. The same characteristics, although reinforced in other aspects, will define its advanced replacement classified with the acronym NEES (Nuovo Elicottero da Esplorazione e Scorta). We are talking about a new generation aircraft that will focus its activities on protecting other helicopters and ground convoys, and carrying out reconnaissance operations in the depths of enemy territory to identify targets or locate activities.
Known as the AW249, the helicopter to be purchased by Leonardo contains technological solutions that respond to experiences in real-world conflicts and operations in which Italians have participated. As can be seen in the picture, its configuration is similar to the Mangusta, but it is more powerful and capable.
It includes a sensor and cannon at the front, a five-winged rotor designed to make little noise on its flights, two half-wings that can be used to carry various weapons, and a three-wheeled train like helicopters do as is common with the Apache or the Tigre. As far as we know, it has a tandem cockpit with the gunner in the first area and the pilot in the highest area to better sense what is happening around it. It is estimated that the AW249 will have a maximum take-off weight of up to eight tons and, thanks to its two General Electric / AVIO CT7-8E6 turbines, which together produce about five thousand horses, will reach a cruising speed of about 140 knots. The autonomy with which it works is approximately three hours and it is committed to a concept that can operate in the most difficult environmental conditions and in particularly cold environments of up to -30 or warm up to 50.
Particular attention is paid to weapon systems. The front weapon has three barrels, is controlled by the pilot’s helmet and is 120 mm tall. Anti-tank or air-to-air missiles or rocket launchers can be loaded onto the wings at six points. Electronics and avionics will take special care to ensure that they are compatible with the latest battlefield standards and that they are specially adapted to the future with software defined radio, Link-16 encrypted connection and BMS (Battlefield Management System) equipment. .. Have a heat capacity and laser system to attack different types of targets with maximum precision.
According to Leonardo, the AW249 will contain elements that will significantly reduce its operating costs and affect maximum survival on the battlefield. It will be able to pilot unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in flight and provide ballistic protection for pilots or fuel tanks. (Octavio Dec Cmara)
Photo: The Italian army will have the new Leonardo AW249 helicopters in a few years’ time, which will replace the A129 Mangusta now in use (Leonardo photo)
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