Five Fleet Air Arm pilots and observers are currently undergoing conversion training at the new Wildcat Training Centre at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, with the helicopter – successor to the Lynx – just 18 months away from front line service.
From the beginning of 2015, Wildcats will begin to relieve the Lynx as the mainstay of helicopter operations for all of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers and some of its Type 23 frigates, as well as any other air missions the fleet requires of it.
700W – ‘W’ for Wildcat – Naval Air Squadron (700W NAS), based atRNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, got its first naval version of the new helicopter on 1 May 2013.
The squadron has been formed especially to bring Wildcat into front line service – squeezing every last ounce of information out of the helicopter so they can share it with the rest of the Wildcat world.
Last month 700W NAS took the naval Wildcat to sea for the first time, carrying out deck landings on Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Mounts Bay off the south coast off England.
Its personnel – 5 pilots, 6 observers (who act as navigators/weapons systems specialists) and 44 ground crew and technicians – are also developing the tactics which will allow Wildcat to track drug-runners, intercept pirates, take out small surface targets, sink submarines and save lives in mid-ocean rescues; basically everything its predecessor Lynx does, only better.
Wildcat pilot Lieutenant James Woods said:
We often hear ‘it looks like a Lynx, how different can it be?’ Well yes, from the outside it bears a striking resemblance to the Lynx, but that really is where the similarity ends.
In Wildcat the Fleet Air Arm is getting a world-leading naval helicopter that builds upon the successes of the present-day Lynx. It’s bristling with the latest advanced mission systems and weapons – it’s the perfect solution to allow the Royal Navy to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Now they’re passing on that experience to existing trained aircrew. And, from early 2015, the Fleet Air Arm will take rookie fliers straight from ‘helicopter school’ at RAF Shawbury and turn them into Wildcat pilots and crew.
Wildcat was on public display at RAF Waddington last weekend, and will be present at 4 more air shows across the UK this summer:
- RNAS Yeovilton Air Day 2013 on Saturday 13 July
- The Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on 20 to 21 July
- RNAS Culdrose Air Day 2013 on Wednesday 24 July
- Wings & Wheels at Dunsfold over the August Bank Holiday weekend
In the autumn the rest of the Navy will get to see what Wildcat can do when the helicopter takes part in the Joint Warrior war games off Scotland for the first time.
The Fleet Air Arm is buying 28 Wildcats and the Army Air Corps is receiving 34. The maritime variant will be fitted with the SELEX Galileo Seaspray 7000E active electronically scanned array radar system for maritime surveillance missions. All will be based at Yeovilton.
The last Lynx will be withdrawn from service in the spring of 2017.
- Republic of Korea Navy launches tender for 12 helicopters
- Leonardo demonstrates its AW159 to Malaysian Armed Forces
- South Korea to Purchase 12 ASW Helicopters
- Leonardo awarded £271 million AW159 WIST contract by UK
- Possible Closure for GKN Yeovil
- General Dynamics integrates Link 16 datalink system on AW159
- British military thanks landing site owners
- Black Cats team ready for 30 air shows
- UK – 815 Naval Air Squadron receives first four of 12 Wildcats
- Philippine Navy orders two AgustaWestland AW159s
- Army Air Corps praise new Wildcat facilities at RNAS Yeovilton
- Korean AW159 deliveries delayed by acceptance test issue
- Recently retired military chief summonsed over AW159 corruption allegations
- Wildcat becomes first helicopter to land at St Helena Airport
- Batch of AgustaWestland related domain names for sale
- Babcock win large Royal Navy helicopter maintenance contract
- Navy Wildcat exercises with South African Navy
- Korean politician accused of taking bribes over AW159 order
- UK military extends AW101 suppert contact with AgustaWestland by five years
- AgustaWestland Renews its Collaboration with CRITICAL Software for a Further Three Years