Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter takes flight
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that the first Wildcat attack helicopter to be delivered to the Royal Navy successfully completed its first flight at Yeovil in Somerset on 28 January.
The aircraft fleet will provide anti-surface warfare, force protection and counter-piracy capabilities for the Royal Navy. It will also fulfil an anti-submarine role when it enters service from 2015.
The MoD signed a £250m contract with AgustaWestland in 2012 to provide support and training for the Royal Navy and British Army’s 62 strong fleet of Wildcat helicopters. The Royal Navy will receive 28 maritime attack variant helicopters, which will begin operations across the globe from 2015 and replace the existing Lynx Mark 8.
The Helicopter Maritime Attack (HMA) Wildcat helicopter has a more powerful engine than its predecessor, allowing it to be flown in extreme conditions all year round. It is also equipped with a more robust fuselage, a high tech interactive display and a new radar system that provides 360 degree surveillance. For armament, the aircraft will carry 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.
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.’
Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, added: ‘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.’
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