PARIS --- Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner has decided to buy Leonardo AW169M helicopters to replace the Army’s obsolete Alouette IIIs, and an official announcement is expected this week, the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung reported Sunday.
Austria is reportedly buying 18 AW169Ms to replace its 21 Alouettes, at a cost of about 300 million euros; the first one is to be delivered in mid-2022.
According to Krone, around two thirds of the total cost will go to pay for the helicopters, and the rest will go to pay for training, logistics, spares and new infrastructure. Twelve of the helicopters will be used for operational missions, while the other six will be used for training and for secondary missions.
Two other manufacturers – Airbus and Bell - were competing for the Austrian order, but the AW169M was reportedly preferred by the General Staff.
Given the long-standing, acrimonious and continuing dispute between Airbus and Austria over the acquisition of Eurofighter combat aircraft in 2004, however, the French-German-Spanish company realistically stood little chance of winning the contract.