Leonardo can quickly bring to market “a sort of new Apache” attack helicopter, along with what its chief executive describes as a replacement for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.
Speaking on a 15 March full-year results call, Mauro Moretti pointed out that its helicopter division had already been contracted by the Italian ministry of defence to develop a successor to the AgustaWestland AW129 Mangusta attack helicopter.
This will use the transmission and dynamic components from the AW189 as part of a cost-saving initiative and Moretti says the same principle can be applied to other military rotorcraft.
Using that strategy would allow it to create “an extension to the multirole defence helicopter, a new Black Hawk”, he says.
That is likely to be a reference to the AW149 – the military version of the AW189 – for which it has long sought a launch customer, with only Thailand so far emerging as a possible operator.
Moretti says it has “already seen interest [from] different countries” for the platform, but does not elaborate further.
However, he points out that its strategy is enabling it to cut development time compared with its rivals.
“We can offer the market in a few years a new medium-sized attack helicopter [of] nine tonnes, and multirole,” he says.
Its competitors would take “more or less five years” to do the same.
Moretti also says Leonardo will “open the orders” for the new AW609 tiltrotor in the second half of 2017, ahead of service entry for the type “at the beginning of 2019”.