In September 2020, the Ministry of Defense of the Federal Republic of Austria had stated that 18 AW-169 helicopters manufactured by Leonardo would be purchased to replace the aging Alouette III helicopters still in service.
At that time, the contract value was estimated at about 300 million euros and it was indicated that twelve of these helicopters would be delivered in operational version with the other six also configured to carry out training missions.
Given the technical and financial importance of the supply, Austria declared its intention to enter into an intergovernmental cooperation agreement with Italy in order to lower maintenance costs and to manage technical and operational training.
Rome accepted with enthusiasm the request of Vienna and started the process of a G2G or intergovernmental agreement in this sense.
The AW-169M in Italy
The Italian Ministry of Defence has selected the AW-169 model produced by Leonardo S.p.a. – Helicopters, as the only one meeting the requirements of the Italian Armed Forces, ordering with two separate contracts for the operational needs of the Italian Army the supply of n. 2 AW-169 Commercial Basic Trainers – A.B.C. and the start-up of the development of the LUH AW-169 Advanced Multirole (M.A) helicopter, as well as the completion of the development of the LUH AW-169 M.A. helicopter and the procurement of 15 AW-169 Advanced Multirole helicopters.
Moreover, the Italian Ministry of Defence started the procedures for the purchase of 11 LUH AW-169 M.A. helicopters with an option for another 5 helicopters for the needs of the Carabinieri.
The same helicopter in the M version had previously been selected for 22 helicopters by the Guardia di Finanza (Armed Corps under the Ministry of Economy and Finance).
The G2G Agreement between Italy and Austria and the role of DA.A.A.
The Italian Ministry of Defence has identified the Direzione degli Armamenti Aeronautici e per l’Aeronavigabilità (Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness) as the institutional body in charge of the technical and contractual management of this agreement.
On November 26, the Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness (DA.A.A.) of the General Secretariat of Defence/National Armaments Directorate released the Preliminary Report and the Determination to Contract for the supply of Leonardo Agusta AW169 helicopters to Austria through a G2G or intergovernmental agreement.
Previously, the Austrian Ministry of Defence had signed with the Italian Ministry of Defence a “Technical Arrangement on Co-operation in the Field of Military Helicopter Aviation” concerning cooperation in the field of military helicopters.
Subsequently, a “Letter of Intent on cooperation in the field of Military Helicopter Aviation” was signed between the Italian Ministry of Defense and the Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Austria, with the same subject.
Finally, in implementation of what was agreed, the parties signed an “Implementing Arrangement” on June 24, 2021.
On the basis of the “Memorandum on Military Cooperation” dated 19/10/2001, the Italian Minister of Defence and the Austrian Minister of Defence have decided to implement, with dedicated agreements, a wide strategic military collaboration based on the use of a common helicopter platform.
In particular, with the “Technical Arrangement” the Italian Ministry of Defence and the Minister of Defence of the Federal Republic of Austria have agreed to cooperate in the field of military helicopters, defining the following macro areas of cooperation: engineering activities, training and simulation, service and logistics activities, operations and any other area of cooperation agreed between the Parties.
With the “Letter of Intent” the Italian Minister of Defence and the Minister of Defence of the Federal Republic of Austria declared their common will to implement the cooperation outlined in the “Technical Arrangement” through a dedicated “Implementing Arrangement”, considering that only the Italian Ministry of Defence was able to offer an all-inclusive cooperation program in the Light Utility Helicopter sector in line with the requirements expressed by the Austrian Ministry of Defence and taking into account that the Italian Ministry of Defence was developing and acquiring the AW-169 Light Utility Helicopter program.
With the “Implementing Arrangement” the Italian Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Austria have defined the terms of the military cooperation program related to the helicopter sector, based on the LUH AW-169 and agreed on the related contractual procedures.
The content of the contract
On the basis of the above-mentioned “Implementing Arrangement” and subsequent clarifications, the Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Austria has provided indications regarding the procurement of the above-mentioned AW-169 LUH helicopters and related support, as indicated below:
-18 LUH AW-169 helicopters, of which 6 in AW-169 B trainer configuration and 12 in AW-169 M.A. advanced multi-role configuration, based on the configuration of similar Italian helicopters to which the specific customizations/configurations requested by Austria will be added;
-Role Equipment, Aircraft Ground Equipment, spare parts, technical publications, technical support, basic and advanced training courses (the latter to be carried out in cooperation with the Italian Army), simulators;
-option for 12 AW-169 M.A. helicopters and option for 6 AW-169 B helicopters.
A consequent contract will then be stipulated between the D.A.A.A. and Leonardo S.p.a. – Helicopters, on the basis of the above-mentioned Italy-Austria International Agreements, to proceed with the procurement of AW-169 LUH helicopters for Austria, in the training and multi-role versions, complete with the materials and services indicated in the Austrian requirement.
The contract will be stipulated by the Italian Ministry of Defence – Direzione degli Armamenti Aeronautici e per l’Aeronavigabilità (Directorate of Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness) in the interest of Austria, without assumption of guarantees of a financial nature by Italy, in accordance with the provisions of art. 537-ter (Cooperation with other States for armament materials produced by national industry) of Legislative Decree no. 66 of March 15, 2010.
The contract will contain the provision of two options for the supply of a further 12 AW-169 M.A. helicopters and 6 AW-169 B helicopters, as indicated in Austria’s requirement.
G2G agreements and the Defence Industrial Policy Directive
Recently, the Italian Defence has signed a new G2G agreement with the Slovenian Defence for the sale of a Leonardo C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft. In addition to the order for the aircraft in question, Italy will also provide Slovenia with assistance and maintenance services as well as flight crew training.