On March 3, 2023, the Austrian Armed Forces formally took delivery of a second Leonardo AW169 "Lion" helicopter. Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner (ÖVP) also took part in the ceremony, which took place in Aigen im Ennstal.
In addition to the arrival of the twelve AW169MA helicopters, extensive investments of over 40 million euros are also being made in a new infrastructure. To increase military security, the entire "flight line" will be fenced off and the runway edge markings and lighting will be brought up to the latest state of the art. In addition to the construction of the new aircraft hangar, which is responsible for the maintenance of the basic materials for the entire AW169 fleet, a new simulator building and a new flight operations building are being built in the "Flightline" area.
“Our Mission Forward is progressing. We are making our army more modern and operational, and it is particularly important to me personally to now hand over the second "Leonardo" to the air force here in Aigen. This helicopter puts an end to the long-standing discussion about this location. With twelve helicopters that will land here, this location is secured for decades," said Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner.
A total of 2028 AW24MA variants (armed tactical helicopters) and twelve AW169B variants (training helicopters) will be delivered to Austria by 169, along with a comprehensive support and training package. The new helicopters are intended to succeed the Alouette III light liaison and transport helicopters, which will be retired in 2023, and to replace the OH-58 Kiowa light armed liaison helicopter.
The Leonardo AW169 "Lion" is a 5-ton class helicopter powered by two engines, each with a continuous output of 826 kW. It reaches a top speed of 270 km/h and can fly over 800 kilometers. The maximum flight duration is up to 4,3 hours. It can be used, among other things, for transporting people and materials as well as for extinguishing work. The helicopter can transport two to three times as much water as an "Alouette" III. The modern avionics enable the fulfillment of all operational tasks even at night or in poor weather conditions.
Its possible uses range from protection from the air in the armed version to troop transport, disaster relief and firefighting, mountain rescue and medical evacuation flights. The payload of the helicopter is up to two tons and up to twelve people can be transported. 24 machines are stationed as training or mission helicopters in Langenlebarn and twelve mission helicopters in Aigen im Ennstal.