Leonardo has signed a contract with Italian Armament Directorate and Defense Ministry for the development of a new attack and escort helicopter for the Italian Army.
The new helicopter will replace the Agusta A129 Mangusta attack helicopter developed in the 1980s and in service with Italian Army.
The multi-year contract under the new exploration and escort helicopter (NEES) program include study, development, industrialization, production and testing of a prototype and three initial production aircraft.
Italian Army has a requirement for 48 units, to replace the AW129 which are expected to be retired by 2025.
The NEES program will based on the A129 and will benefit from the experience gained by Italian Army operating the type since 1990. It will feature improved performance and lower operating costs.
The AW129 was the first European attack helicopter design, which was followed shortly by the Airbus Helicopters Tiger.
In cooperation with Leonardo, Turkish Aerospace Industries have developed a derivative of the A129 called the T129, which is powered by a new more powerful twin LHTEC CTS800-4A turbo-shaft engines.