Leonardo Helicopters has finally secured a launch customer for the military variant of the AW169 medium-twin, with a deal for 22 examples from Italy's Guardia di Finanza police agency.
Valued at €280 million ($315 million), the contract also includes a support and training package. First deliveries will take place in mid-2019, running until 2024.
The helicopters will be used to perform a range of roles, including patrol and reconnaissance, law enforcement, rescue and homeland security.
Rome will shortly be required to replace its fleet of ageing Bell types – including the 202, 212 and 412 – which were licence-built by Agusta in Italy and hundreds of which are operated by both the armed forces and bodies such as the Guardia di Finanza, the coastguard and the Carabinieri.
Speaking at October's Helitech show in Amsterdam, Roberto Garavaglia, senior vice-president of competitive analysis and strategy at the airframer, said there was "widespread interest" from the Italian government in the AW169 which is a "natural successor" to older aircraft.
The new AW169s will complement an eventual fleet of 14 AW139 intermediate-twins, six of which are already in service, with the remainder due to be delivered in 2019.
Military qualification for the AW169Ms will be supplied by Italy's Armaereo agency. The aircraft will be configured with a number of features, including electro-optical/infrared sensors, a rescue hoist and night-vision goggle compatibility.