Bilateral defense industry talks have taken place between Italy and Hungary in Florence last week, Világgazdaság reported. The Italian delegation was led by Lieutenant General Luciano Portolano, who is also Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense, while the Hungarian side was represented by retired general László Tömböl.
Luciano Portolano expressed the hope that the friendly relations between Italy and Hungary could be further strengthened. He also confirmed that
the Italian defense industry is ready to support the renewal of the Hungarian armed forces. To this end, possible developments and intergovernmental agreements are being sought and explored.
László Tömböl stressed that Hungary is particularly interested in deepening cooperation with Italy in the defense industry, according to the portal. The parties also identified specific Italian defense products and technologies that could meet relevant Hungarian needs. Three of them were mentioned: the combat helicopter segment, in particular the new AW249 NEES type, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and unmanned aerial counter systems (C-UAS).
The development and production of the new AW249 combat helicopters will be carried out by Leonardo, the flagship company of the Italian defense industry. However, it would surprise many if the Hungarian Air Force were to order one of these helicopters, even though this class of military gunships is not represented in Hungary’s helicopter order books. Only the defense versions of the French Airbus H145 and H225 are known to have been ordered for the Hungarian Air Force, while there remains a gap for a truly ground-up attack helicopter, such as the AW249. Yet until now, only the Italian government had expressed its intention to order 48 of these helicopters to replace the aging AW129 Mangusta, its predecessor.
AW249 Twitter Leonardo
According to Leonardo’s website, the AW249 meets all the requirements of the latest generation of combat helicopters and is capable of operating for the next 30 years despite the rapid changes in technical requirements. The model is able to adapt to these changes because it uses open systems. It is considered the only new combat helicopter that combines advanced technologies, excellent performance, high survivability, and low operating costs.
The helicopter is powered by two engines, each rated at 2500 hp (1860 kilowatts). Its maximum take-off mass is between 7,500 and 8,000 kilograms, and its cruising speed is 260 kilometers per hour. It can stay in the air for three hours without interruption. It could be equipped with air-to-ground, air-to-air, and armor-piercing spike guided missiles and will have a 20-mm cannon in its nose section. The on-board system will allow interaction with drones. Special attention will be paid to crash-worthiness: The helicopter’s chassis as well as its seats and fuel tanks will be resistant to impact with the ground.