Armed Forces International News - July 2012

Farnborough Handover For First AW159 Wildcat

Posted by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter on 11/07/2012 - 10:40:00

Farnborough Wildcat Handover

The first production AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopter has been transferred to the MoD at the Farnborough International Airshow.

Handed-over by AgustaWestland officials, the helicopter is set to equip both the Royal Navy and the Army Air Corps in coming months.

Two different Wildcat versions will be produced to suit the Navy's and the Army's disparate needs. 28 maritime models will be manufactured for the Royal Navy, while 34 battlefield-optimised Wildcats are going the Army Air Corps' way.

The Royal Navy's AW159 Wildcat fleet will achieve initial operational capability in 2015 and the Army Air Corps' fleet, one year before that.

AW159 Wildcat

The AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat is the latest version of the Westland Lynx but is substantially more high-tech than any other previous variant. Upgraded features include more powerful engines, a totally redesigned tail and improved avionics.

In Royal Navy service, Wildcats will be fitted with two brand new types of weapon - the FASGW (Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon) and the LMM (Lightweight Multirole Missile).

Common to both Army and Navy Wildcats are a heavy machine gun and a general purpose machine gun.

Farnborough Wildcat Handover

"Wildcat represents a considerable advance over the current Lynx helicopters, bringing greatly improved performance and capability", Philip Hammond - UK Defence Secretary - explained in a statement made during the Farnborough Wildcat handover.

He continued: "The contract to provide training and support will keep them flying wherever they are needed. These helicopters will be a key part of the future equipment programme for the Armed Forces that will see £160 billion spent over the next ten years. By balancing the budget, we can deliver the airframes and the millions of pounds of support they require."

"This is an excellent helicopter, which is very important to the Army Air Corps", added the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall. "We will be seeking to get it fully operational as soon as possible."

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