AW978 AW159 Wildcat Enters Service
A ceremony was held today at the Farnborough International Airshow, in the presence of the Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, to celebrate the successful delivery to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the new AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat multi-role helicopter. The first AW159 Wildcat was accepted in April 2012 and since then a further four aircraft have delivered with deliveries continuing until 2016 from AgustaWestland’s Yeovil production line.
Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of AgustaWestland said at the ceremony “The Wildcat programme is a great success story which has demonstrated the benefits of industry and the Ministry of Defence working in partnership. When we signed the contract in June 2006 to develop and manufacture the Wildcat we committed to deliver the first aircraft in April 2012 and we delivered on our promise by being on schedule and on budget.”
He added “We believe the AW159 Wildcat will prove to be a great asset for the British Army and Royal Navy, with its fully integrated systems and modern sensors the aircraft delivers an exceptional capability in both the land and sea environments.”
The Wildcat initial operating capability with the British Army is scheduled for 2014 and the Royal Navy in 2015. The British Army’s AW159 Wildcat will perform a wide range of tasks on the battlefield including reconnaissance, command and control, transportation of troops and materiel, and the provision of force protection. The Royal Navy variant will provide an agile maritime capability, delivering an anti-surface warfare and force protection capability. It will operate in support of amphibious operations and be an important element in defending ships against surface threats. There is a high degree of commonality between the British Army and Royal Navy helicopters that will enable aircraft to switch roles if required.
The AW159 has been developed as a Lynx successor incorporating the same characteristics of high agility, excellent survivability and multi-role capabilities. The AW159 Wildcat 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. A pair of CTS800-4N engines, each providing up to 1,361 shp, provide exceptional performance even in hot and high environments and their exhausts include built in IR suppression to provide increased survivability.
There are four large area (10” x 8”) cockpit displays and a fully integrated avionics suite and mission system to provide increased mission capability and reduced crew workload. A nose mounted Electro Optical Device provides infra-red and daytime colour imagery and incorporates a laser range finder. The aircraft also has a comprehensive defensive aids suite including radar and missile warning systems, counter measures dispensing system and electronic support measures. 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.
The UK MoD AW159 Wildcat programme was the first major project to be awarded under the Strategic Partnering Arrangement signed by the UK MoD and AgustaWestland in June 2006. AgustaWestland also has partnering agreements with a number of key suppliers on the AW159 Wildcat programme including Selex Galileo, a Finmeccanica company; GKN Aerospace, LHTEC – a partnership between Rolls-Royce and Honeywell, General Dynamics UK, Thales UK and GE Aviation.