Leonardo will now deliver the next stage of the Wildcat Integrated Support and Training (WIST) contract, which confirms the next five-year period of the 34-year contract originally signed in 2012. This £360 million contract awarded last year marks the continued delivery of support services for the UK’s fleet of AW159 Wildcat helicopters to the British Armed Forces. The WIST contract includes a spares provisioning service, a 3-Year Scheduled Maintenance service, enhanced technical support services including aircraft safety management, as well as delivering synthetic and ground-based training for both aircrew and maintainers. The contract will sustain over 340 industry jobs, mainly in the South West of England at RNAS Yeovilton where the Wildcat Training Centre and frontline squadrons are located and also at Leonardo in Yeovil where the joint Leonardo/Ministry of Defence WIST project office is located.
Simon Jones, VP of Customer Support and Training at Leonardo Helicopters UK, commented: “The next tranche of the Wildcat Integrated Support and Training (WIST) contract ensures the British Armed Forces have the right equipment, training and support to continue to meet their operational needs. Through collaboration and partnerships, WIST maintains UK rotary wing capabilities onshore through the centre’s cutting-edge technologies and a highly-skilled workforce.”
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “Wildcat helicopters play a vital role in supporting our Armed Forces through reconnaissance, protection and transport. I am delighted they will continue to receive high-quality technical support and training from Leonardo UK.”
The Wildcat helicopter is a key element of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG), providing a multi-role attack capability as it operates from the frigates and destroyers that accompany the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The twin-engine AW159 helicopter is a modern, multi-role and agile platform utilised for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) roles around the world. The platform recently surpassed 80,000 flight hours across its global fleet. Able to strike with a range of weapons including missiles, torpedoes and guns, during the maiden deployment of CSG21 last autumn, the new Martlet missile system achieved initial operating capability with a successful test firing from an embarked Wildcat HMA Mk2 in the Bay of Bengal.
To date more than 70 AW159s in a variety of roles have been delivered to battlefield and maritime military operators around the world, including the British Army and Royal Navy. Meanwhile, the Wildcat AH Mk1 performs a range of important tasks for the Army including reconnaissance, command and control, transportation of troops and equipment, as well as force protection with its heavy and general-purpose machine guns. Flexible, agile and adaptable, as part of the 1st Aviation Brigade Combat Team, the Wildcat AH has led the way during recent deployments to Oman and Estonia in 2021, and Lithuania in 2022. Its capability will be significantly increased over the next few years with the addition of a secure Tactical Data Link, further enhancing connectivity across the battlefield.