Prototype Of New AW249 Attack Helicopter Deploys To Spain For Hot Weather Testing | Aviation


Close up on the payload carried on the stub wings (Reader’s submission)

The new AW249 NESS (“Fenice”) combat helicopter has deployed to Palma del Río for testing in hot weather.

The first prototype of the new Leonardo AW249 NEES (Nuovo Elicottero da Esplorazione e Scorta / New Exploration and Escort Helicopter), CSX82097, s/n 24001,  is currently deployed to Spain to undertake hot weather testing at Palma del Río, near Cordoba.

The helicopter is the second prototype of the “Fenice” (Italian for “Phoenix”, as the AW249 should be known, as revealed by General Andrea Di Stasio, Commander of the Italian Army Aviation), that carried out its first flight from the Leonardo Helicopters plant in Vergiate, on Mar. 19, 2023, following another prototype that flew the type’s maiden flight in August 2022 (in its primer paint and the experimental serial CSX82069).

The photographs submitted by one of our readers show no significant modifications to the prototype: the only notable detail could be the addition of a real TTS electro-optical/PNVS (Pilot Night Vision System) and what appear to be rectangular devices (most probably used to simulate something else for testing purposes) on the stub wings.

The fuselage and tail boom features lines and red tapes possibly used to attach strain sensors on the surface to monitor the stress on the airframe during the flight.

The AW249 should spend one month in Spain before returning to Italy.

As already explained, the new attack helicopter will replace the AW129 Mangusta, which has been in service with the Italian Army since the 1990s and upgraded throughout the years until the current…

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