Jan. 28 saw the first AW159 “Wildcat” destinate to the Royal Navy make its first flight from AgustaWestland’s Yeovil production facility.
The chopper, a Naval version HMA MkII is the first of 28 examples destined for the Royal Navy.
The Wildcat will be armed with a wide array of weapons from “Sting Ray torpedoes, a door-mounted 0.5 inch heavy machine gun and new light and heavy variants of the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon Missiles,” according to the Royal Navy’s website.
Although the Wildcat is strikingly similar to the Mk8 AugustaWestland Lynx it is an evolution of the Lynx rather than a face lift, so much so it has had to go through the same testing regime as a new aircraft (which it is) would. The Wildcat has a more robust airframe, more powerful engine and updated, upgraded sensors.
On the Royal Navy website quoted Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, said:
“As a ship borne helicopter, Wildcat will provide Commanders with a flexible attack capability which can be deployed to tackle a range of threats at sea and from the sea.”
“With state of the art sensors, equipment and weapons, it will be an outstanding asset that will maintain Royal Naval units at the cutting edge of worldwide maritime operations.”
The Navy website also quoted Minister for Defence Equipment Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, as saying:
“The new maritime Wildcat Attack Helicopter is an excellent addition to the Royal Navy’s arsenal, providing it with greater firepower and a range of technological enhancements.”
“The support and training contract with AgustaWestland is also good news for the local economy in Somerset, securing 500 highly skilled jobs in the Defence sector.”
This milestone comes shortly after AugustaWestland announced the first export customer for the AW159 in the South Korean Navy with an order for 8 examples including crew training and initial spares and support services.
Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com
Image credit: AgustaWestland
Farnborough 2012: AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat delivered to the UK Ministry of Defence July 12, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : Farnborough 2012, Helicopters , add a comment
On Day 3 of the Farnborough International Airshow, the first three AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopters were officially delivered to the UK Ministry of Defense.
The keys of the first Wildcat multi-role chopper, were taken over by UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond.
The Wildcat will enter service with the Army (34 helicopters) and Royal Navy (28 helicopters) in battlefield reconnaissance, command and control, transportation and force protection, as well as and shipborne helicopter roles, including an anti-surface warfare. Interestingly, since there is a high degree of commonality between the Army and Royal Navy Wildcats, the aircraft will be able to switch roles if required.
The AW159 is a much modified and update helicopter based on the Lynx. It has a semi-rigid rotor head to give it high agility and is fitted with composite rotor blades utilising the same technology that enabled the Lynx to break the world helicopter speed record. Its pair of CTS800-4N engines, have exhausts which include built-in IR suppression to enhance survivability.
The cockpit features four large area (10” x 8”) displays and a fully integrated avionics suite and mission system. Infra-red and daytime color imagery is provided through a nose mounted Electro Optical Device which incorporates a laser range finder. Naval variants are also equipped with a 360 degree scan radar and weapon carriers for a range of torpedoes, depth charges and anti-surface missiles.
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