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The Leonardo AW169 is a twin-engine helicopter that is similiar yet smaller and lighter than the AW139 and AW189 medium helicopters. The first prototype flew in 2012 and utilises many of the same internal systems as its bigger siblings reducing development costs in addition to maintenance costs for operators of multiple types. The AW169 has enjoyed civilian and miliary success, as a utility helicopter, the type can hold up to 10 people or 7 in a VIP role. A dedicated military version has been developed as the AW169M which has a full multirole ability and is able to conduct missions from troop transport to SAR and surveillance.
The Italian Army has chosen the AW169M, to be known as the AW169LUH or UH-169 in service as the winner of their Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program. The UH-169 will eventually replace five types in service including the Italian licence-built versions of the venerable Huey. The Italian Army operate a pair of UH-169B training helicopters and the Italian Army will eventually be receiving 15 examples of the UH-169/AW169LUH. The UH-169B differs from the main UH-169 version by having retractable undercarriage whereas the main version will be fitted with skids.
The Italian Army will be providing one of their UH-169B's in a RIAT debut for static display this year. The helicopter is being provided by the 30th Squadron based at Lamezia Terme airport. The squadron is known as the Pegasus Squadron.
Photo Credit: Peter Reoch