Egypt is quietly building up its fleet of Leonardo Helicopters AW149s, having now taken delivery of five of an eventual 24 of the super-medium-twins from a 2019 order worth €871 million ($1 billion).

Leonardo has never commented on any aspect of the deal – or indeed acknowledged its existence. However, the commitment, which also includes eight AW189s, was disclosed by the Italian government in May last year.

AW149 Egypt-c-FabrizioCapenti

Source: Fabrizio Capenti

MSN49067 was seen performing pre-delivery flights in November last year

The most recent shipments took place in late 2020 when a pair of the 8.6t utility helicopters were shipped to Egypt via freighter from Milan Malpensa airport to Alexandria Borg El Arab.

Those two aircraft – serial numbers 49066 and 49067 – were sighted performing pre-delivery test flights in Egyptian air force livery from Venegono airfield in northern Italy in November.

An initial trio of the 8.6t helicopters was handed over in September 2020, Cirium fleets data records.

Leonardo declines to comment.

Powered by twin GE Aviation CT7 engines, the Egyptian air force’s AW149s are configured in an eight-seat layout.

Egypt’s inventory of large helicopters includes 23 Westland Sea Kings and 62 Mil Mi-8/17s, Cirium data shows.

Since the AW149’s launch in the mid-2000s, the airframer has struggled to attract customers for the platform. Aside from Egypt, its only other order is from the Royal Thai Army, which has five examples in service.