The Leonardo AW159 (previously called AgustaWestland Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter designed to serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles. In British service, common variants are being operated by both the Royal Navy and British Army to replace their Lynx Mk.7/8/9 rotorcraft. The Leonardo AW159 has also been offered to several export customers, and has been ordered by the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy. The AW159 is the latest generation multi-role, multi-mission maritime and utility helicopter, designed from concept to operate in the harshest maritime environments of high sea state and associated deck motion conditions.
The AW159 Wildcat is a further development of the Westland Lynx. While the AW159 shares broad similarities in appearance to the Lynx, it has significant design differences and is heavily modernised and adapted to gain new attributes and functionality. The AW159 comprises 95% new components; the remaining 5%, consisting of such items as the fuel system and main rotor gearbox, are interchangeable with the Lynx AH7 and HMA8 variants. The AW159 is the first helicopter by AgustaWestland to be designed inside an entirely digital environment. Both Army and Navy variants have a common airframe, which is manufactured by GKN Aerostructures; the airframe has been marinised for operations in the naval environment and provides for a greater airframe lifespan of 12,000 flight hours.
The AW159 is powered by two 1,362 hp (1,016 kW) LHTEC CTS800 turboshaft engines which drives the rotorcraft’s BERP IV rotor blades via a new transmission, increasing the maximum take-off weight by more than 1 ton over the legacy Super Lynx. It is equipped with a new composite tailboom, tailplane, tail rotor, nose structure and avionics suite. The naval version is also equipped with a SELEX Galileo Seaspray 7000E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and L-3 Wescam MX-15Di electro-optical/infrared nose turret. A glass cockpit comprises the primary human-machine interface, using a total of four 255 x 200mm multifunction displays to provide information to the aircrew and interact with the avionics systems on board.
The AW159 featured an increased payload and range over the preceding Super Lynx; it is operationally required to carry up to 8 Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapons up to 185 kilometers from a host ship and remain on station for up to an hour. The type can perform aerial reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), utility, fire control, command and control, and troop transport duties. In these varied mission roles, a range of munitions can be used. The AW159 is fitted with a new stores management system, carrier and weapons launcher. Weapons options include 12.7mm door-mounted heavy machine guns, 20mm cannon pods, unguided or guided rockets, air-to-surface missiles, torpedoes and depth charges. The AW159 is equipped with BAE Systems Sting Ray lightweight torpedoes, up to eight Sea Venom anti-ship missiles. FASGW is intended to be effective against corvette, fast attack craft and smaller maritime targets and on coastal ‘soft’ land targets.