Leonardo Helicopters has finally flown the second prototype of the AW249 Fenice attack helicopter it is developing for the Italian army.
Taking place from the airframer’s Vergiate plant in northern Italy, the 19 March sortie was long overdue: Leonardo Helicopters last summer promised the second aircraft would follow close behind the first example, which made its maiden flight in August 2022.
Leonardo Helicopters has not detailed the reasons for the seven-month gap between the prototypes.
Unlike its sister aircraft, which remains in its primer coating, the latest Fenice prototype (MSN24001) is the first to be painted in the Italian army’s standard dark green colour scheme.
There are no external differences between the two helicopters, but FlightGlobal understands there have been minor changes to certain internal systems. A third prototype is due to fly in the coming months.
Powered by twin GE Aerospace CT7 engines, each rated at 2,500hp (1,860kW), the AW249 also uses the dynamic components from the AW149 transport.
Designed to replace the Italian army’s current fleet of AW129D Mangusta attack helicopters, the AW249 will enter service from 2025.
An initial five-unit development contract was placed in 2017, but Rome sees an eventual requirement for 48 helicopters.
The head of Italian army aviation recently revealed the AW249 was to be named Fenice – or Phoenix in English.