The Italian ministry of defence has asked AgustaWestland for more details on its plans for a new multirole helicopter dubbed the A149.

The Italian army wants the Anglo-Italian manufacturer to look at the implications of applying technologies from the AB139 programme into a new aircraft in the 6.8t class.

AgustaWestland, which is seeking potential launch customers for the aircraft, has also included the A149 in its bid document for the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) Air 9000 competition to fulfil the troop lift part of the requirement and says it is "testing the market" prior to any formal launch of the aircraft.

The company stresses that development of the A149 is still in its infancy, however. It says it needs to be able to create a business case that would justify launching the programme. Engineers are studying which technologies can be transferred from the AB139 in a bid to fill a gap in the existing product range.


AgustaWestland says it is looking at missions such as combat search and rescue, coast guard applications and armed reconnaissance among others. It believes the market will dictate the speed of development.

The aircraft would make the best of the AB139 fuselage and drive train and would leverage technologies such as the 1553 databus already integrated into the AB139.

AgustaWestland has not made formal investigations into powerplant, but an engine in the class of the LHTEC T800-LHT-801 currently in development for the Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche is a likely candidate for the A149.

The Air 9000 decision is now unlikely until the new year to allow time for an investigation into alleged interference in the modelling of contender proposals to take place. AgustaWestland's main bid is based around the EH101, which is competing with bids from Sikorsky Australia and Eurocopter Pacific.

Air 9000 is worth up to $3.6 billion over the next 30 years. The ADF aims to identify a strategic partner to manage and rationalise its helicopter fleet and to provide up to 12 additional helicopters for troop lift missions.

Source: Flight Daily News