Leonardo AW169s for Austrian Air Force
On 20 September 2020, the Austrian Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner announced that she has decided to purchase eighteen Leonardo AW169Ms to replace the Bundesheer (Austrian Armed Forces) obsolete 21 strong fleet of Alouette 3 helicopters. The official announcement is expected later this week as the Austrian newspaper Krone reports.
The order with Leonardo will cost the Austrian taxpayers about USD 352 million (300 million euro) including training, logistics, spares and new infrastructure. The first AW169M could be delivered by mid-2022. Of the eighteen new helicopters, six will be used for training and for secondary missions like air ambulance and civilian support.
The Österreichische Luftstreitkräfte (Austrian Air Force) originally purchased 26 SA316B/SE3160 Allouette IIIs which were delivered from 1967 onwards. The primary task of the Alouette 3, a light utility helicopter, was later on added with a secundary task as rescue helicopter. In 1986, the Bundesheer bought two additional second-hand SE3160s as attrition replacements (both former Royal Jordanian Air Force), while more recent, in 1999, a sole Swiss built SA316B was added to the fleet.
Scramble Magazine assesses that some twenty Alouette 3s are still operational. The helicopters are assigned to the Kommando Luftunterstützung (air support command). That command operates the Verbindungshubschrauberstaffel (Communication squadron) at Aigen im Ennstal air base. The staffel operates several detachments, Hubschrauber-Stützpunkten, at Klagenfurt, Punitz/Güssing and Schwaz. At Tulln-Langenlebarn air base, the Flieger- und Fliegerabwehrtruppenschule 'FlFlATS' with Lehrabteilung Hubschrauber is based. This unit is responsible for Alouette 3 pilot training.
Photo: Robert Erenstein via Scramble Magazine