In 2009, Agusta Westland completed the construction of the AW149 multipurpose helicopter. Although it is based on the AW139 civilian helicopter project, it turned out to be a completely new machine. In the modification of AW149, there is an elongated fuselage, a new transmission, engines with increased power are used. The helicopter was developed mainly for military purposes, so it was equipped with modern equipment that allows you to fly in any weather and at any time of the day.
The development of AW149 is taking into account the requirements of the Italian Air Force for the new middle-class helicopter used for search and rescue operations. It can be used for transporting passengers and goods, communications and control, fire support, surveillance, and reconnaissance, search and rescue operations, evacuation, etc.
The first instance of the helicopter was lifted into the air on October 13, 2009, in Vergiate. The second instance was equipped with GE ST7-2E1 motors with the FADEC system, which produced a total power of 2000 hp, a completely new transmission system, and a five-blade rotor with low vibration and noise. And released in 2010.
The AW149 helicopter has a load capacity of 8 tons. The onboard equipment includes fully digital avionics, which has an open architecture and integrated special equipment. The device is equipped with a modern glass cabin with a four-position autopilot, which is designed to perform operations in various modes of theater.
The helicopter equipment includes a data transmission bus MIL-STD-1553B, a system for monitoring the status of the most important units and systems (HUMS), on-board voice and flight data storage devices, weapon subsystems and radar systems, providing forward visibility. There is the possibility of retrofitting meteorological radar equipment. The cab can be fully combined with night vision devices.
The AW149 helicopter can perform operations around the clock in any weather thanks to specialized avionics and cockpit, compatible with night vision devices. As an option, the developer proposes to equip the helicopter with an anti-icing system.
AW149, which was developed with an open architecture, can be equipped in the future with advanced systems and equipment to perform a wider range of tasks and move from one task to another. In addition to all this, it can be upgraded to meet future requirements. The installation of promising sensors and data lines improves situational awareness in performing operations involving the network system.
The cargo compartment volume of 12.4 m³ can accommodate up to 18 soldiers. There is a cargo hook that can withstand 2720 kg and an external cargo lift of 272 kg. Other innovations that have been applied on the AW149:
- an anti-collision system with wires;
- the separators in the engine design to prevent foreign particles from entering the inside;
- a closed type fuel system;
- a bulge of the porthole of the cabin.
The AW149 helicopter is ideal for performing a wide range of tasks, both for transporting the military, participating in logistic and combat operations, and for fire support, conducting search and rescue operations in combat and ordinary conditions, operations related to reconnaissance, surveillance, and evacuation the wounded, external cargo delivery, VIP transport, command communications, and control, etc.
The helicopter’s weapons complex allows you to withstand armored targets and carry out fire support to infantry on the battlefield. To remote brackets (similar to the N-60), containers with weapons, NUSR cassettes, air-to-surface, and air-to-ground missiles can be suspended. In the windows of the cabin, the possibility of installing machine guns is presented.
In 2011, a Finmeccanica announced the transition to the order of the APU e-APU60, which is manufactured by Microturbo. This APU was developed taking into account the features of the latest aircraft of the latest generation and is quite suitable for equipping the latest generation of multi-purpose medium helicopter AW149. The main criteria for choosing in favor of the APU e-APU60 were: the best power-to-weight ratio, good compactness, rational indicators of the high-pressure cycle, which are based on the latest technologies. All this gives the installation excellent reliability indicators, low operating costs, and excellent functioning. The APU60 generates up to 60 kW of electrics, which allows you to start the engines on the ground and warm up the cab. Also, this is quite enough to start them during a flight in case of engine failure.
Agusta Westland currently offers on the helicopter market an adapted version of AW-149, which is designated TUHP-145 within Turkey. The Turkish government ordered 115 multi-role helicopters. Today, the Secretariat of the Turkish defense industry is holding a competition in which the main rival of AW-149 will be the helicopter of the American company Sikorsky – S-70 Black Hawk. Presumably, the choice will be made in favor of Agusta Westland, because the company undertakes to transfer the production technology of its helicopter. According to the rules, the winner of the competition must deploy two assembly lines for multi-purpose helicopters, one must be in Turkey. In addition to Sikorsky, Agusta Westland will compete with such Turkish aircraft manufacturers as Roquestan, Havelsan, Aselsan. After the delivery of 78 machines, the production of all components, as well as assembly, will be concentrated in Turkey.
- Crew: 2
- Capacity: 18 people; 2.720kg external suspension
- Length: 17.57 m (57 ft. 8 in.)
- Main Rotor Diameter: 14.6 m (47 ft 11 in)
- Width: 3.06 m (10 ft)
- Height: 5.14 m (16 ft. 10 in.)
- Gross weight: 8600 kg (18959 pounds)
- Powerplant: 2 × General Electric CT7-2E1 turboshaft engine, 1477 kW (1980 hp)
- Top speed: 310 km / h (mph)
- Cruising speed: 278 km / h (173 mph)