North Macedonia’s defence ministry has selected Leonardo Helicopters to equip its armed forces with a new fleet of AW149 and AW169M rotorcraft from later this decade.

Announced by defence minister Slavjanka Petrovska on 22 January, the planned eight-aircraft acquisition is worth an estimated €230 million ($250 million).


Source: Leonardo Helicopters

Skopje plans to field four AW149s as part of its military modernisation

Petrovska says the NATO member intends to field four AW149 multi-role medium-twins, each capable of carrying up to 12 combat-equipped troops, plus two pilots. It also will take four AW169M light-twins, able to carry two pilots and eight troops.

Leonardo beat rival offers of the Airbus Helicopters H145M and H225M, Bell 412, and Sikorsky/PZL Mielec S-70M Black Hawk, she says, citing the successful bid as “the most appropriate, according to the performance and price, including the maintenance system”.

Skopje will form a procurement commission to negotiate a contract, with the aim of sealing a government-to-government deal with Italy. It hopes to receive its new rotorcraft within 24-36 months of an agreement being signed.

North Macedonia’s purchase of new helicopters will mark its biggest ever acquisition since it became independent from Yugoslavia in 1992.

Once fielded, the AW149s and AW169Ms will enable the long-postponed retirement of the nation’s Soviet-era Mil Mi-8/17 transport and Mi-24V assault helicopters.