North Macedonia has finalised a contract to acquire four Leonardo Helicopters AW149s and the same number of AW169Ms, with deliveries to start in 2026.

Signed by defence minister Slavjanka Petrovska and Leonardo vice-president Cesare Cacha in Skopje on 26 March, the deal will deliver new aircraft to equip the NATO member’s army air brigade.

North Macedonia announced its intention to buy the rotorcraft on 22 January via a government-to-government agreement. Following the completion of negotiations and definition of required aircraft mission equipment, its Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security values the signed deal at just under €250 million ($270 million): around €20 million more than its previous estimate.


Source: Ewan Hoyle Photography

Skopje will receive four examples of twin-engined AW149

In addition to receiving its new medium- and light-twin helicopters between August 2026 and the end of 2028, North Macedonia’s defence ministry says its contract also includes an in-service support package, simulator, personnel training and the construction of a new hangar at Petrovec air base.

However, no details about the selected mission equipment have been made public, and it is not known if the aircraft will be armed. The incoming types will be used to replace transport/assault-roled Mil Mi-8/17s and Mi-24V attack helicopters.

Representing the biggest defence acquisition made by North Macedonia, the contract is the result of a process initiated in 2019. Other types considered during an assessment activity were the Airbus Helicopters H145M, H215M and H225M, Bell 412M, and the Sikorsky/PZL Mielec UH-60M/S-70 Black Hawk.