Leonardo AW149 will be produced in the UK to further his proposal in the NMH competition

Leonardo began building his production line for the latest combat helicopter, the AW149 helicopter. This latest multi-million dollar investment by the company in its facilities makes Leonardo’s bid for the UK’s new Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirements more competitive by ensuring the company is ready to bring the AW149 into service by 2025, if selected by UK Department of Defense (MOD).

The stated goal of the Department of Defense is to have the NMH in service by 2025. If Leonardo wins the competition, the current Helicopter Design and Engineering Center in Yeovil will have the infrastructure and knowledge to meet this ambitious schedule.

The NMH competition is progressing well, and Leonardo submitted his response to the UK Ministry of Defense Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) in June. The company is considered to have the strongest commercial and social value proposition in the competition, with a platform that meets the capabilities requirements of the British Armed Forces.

Gian Piero Catillo, CEO of Leonardo Helicopters, said: “We have already trained engineers in Yeovil to specialize in the production of the AW149. We have also made the necessary investment in infrastructure to prepare for the local construction of the AW149, taking advantage of commonalities with the AW189s we already produce in Yeovil. “.

“The proactive upgrade of these capabilities is further evidence of our strong commitment to delivering the best core offering to the NMH programme. Should the UK MoD select the AW149, our immediately available capability will ensure that increased production, reduced risk, cost savings and aircraft delivery time are unbeatable.”

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Adam Clark, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, said: “Since the beginning of this tender, Leonardo has committed to setting up the AW149 production line at our Yeovil site. This investment in the line is a “statement of readiness” for our company to support the British Ministry of Defense in its demand that the NMH be in service by 2025. In addition, this investment increases the risk of our program and underscores our willingness to support the British client now, should Leonardo be successful in offering it” .

Leonardo, at Yeovil, currently supports the AW149 in service by manufacturing the onboard transmission and dynamic components. The company will also draw on its experience building the AW189, which shares a common body base with the AW149. Between 2014 and 2018, ten AW189 helicopters were built in Yeovil for the UK search and rescue service operated by Bristow Helicopters.

In addition to having the same exterior footprint, the AW149 and AW189 share engines, powertrain, blades, automatic digital flight control systems and a flight management system. So when Leonardo begins work on the first AW149 built in the UK, he will be able to draw on his engineering and manufacturing knowledge base and skills.

Leonardo’s previous preparations for its NMH show included knowledge sharing between the company’s helicopter facilities in the UK and Italy. The teams in Italy hosted their Yeovil colleagues to teach them the engineering knowledge and techniques used to build the latest generation of AW149 warplanes.

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