At the beginning of August, the Government of Pakistan ordered four AW139 utility helicopters from the Italian defence giant Leonardo. According to the Pakistani news channel Dunya News, two batches of two helicopters each will be delivered over the next 18 months. The AW139s will be used for transport and emergency medical services (EMS) purposes.
Notes, Comments & Analysis
While not confirmed, the wording of Leonardo’s press release suggests that this recent order is a follow-on order to a Pakistani AW139 order made in May, where the platform was selected to take on search and rescue (SAR) work in various parts of the country.
It appears that Pakistan had selected the AW139 as its principal civil utility helicopter – i.e. its platform for SAR, EMS, VVIP transport, etc. The Pakistani government already operates 11 AW139s.
According to Leonardo, 240 customers across 70 countries had ordered 960 AW139s, making the AW139 a heavily used and widely adopted platform. The AW139’s unit price has generally been cited to be in the $10 million U.S. range, which positions it as a very affordable general purpose helicopter.
It will be worth see if Pakistan rationalizes its civilian helicopter needs by standardizing on the AW139, which could be a worthwhile addition for other government bodies (e.g. law-enforcement agencies). A sufficiently sized fleet could warrant a domestic maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) base.