Wildcat, the Navy’s next-generation helicopter, has begun its most extensive trials yet, joining a frigate at sea for the first time.
The successor to the trusty Lynx, which has served the Navy and the Army admirably since the 1970s, will spend the next month flying on and off HMS Iron Duke in the English Channel as part of its most extensive trials yet.
Wildcat is the next generation of light multi-role helicopter to serve both the Army and the Navy in the future. The Navy variant of the Wildcat will be the mainstay of helicopter operations from Royal Navy destroyers and frigates, with 28 ordered for the Fleet Air Arm.
Although the aircraft looks similar to its predecessor – with the exception of its distinctive tailplane which improves the helicopter’s stability – Wildcat’s characteristics are sufficiently different from Lynx to warrant extensive flight trials, setting the parameters within which it can safely operate.
Wildcat has gone to sea before, landing on the back of aviation training ship RFA Argus off the south coast of England back in November 2011.
And the prototype ZZ402 paid a brief visit to HMS Iron Duke just before Christmas, when pilots and technicians tested some of the basics.
Those trials were carried out with the ship stationary in Portsmouth Naval Base. For the ‘Ship Helicopter Operating Limits’ trials currently underway, Iron Duke and Wildcat have put to sea.
A team of more than 30 experts has joined the Type 23 frigate for the evaluation; the ship has also been fitted with specialist instruments to record every aspect of the trials.
Initially the trials will take place in Lyme Bay, before Iron Duke sails increasingly westwards, not least searching for rough weather to help define the helicopter’s operating limits ‘over the full envelope of operations’ (i.e. payloads and weights carried by Wildcat in all manner of climatic conditions).
The trials should take until around early February 2012 after which around nine months is required to analyse and evaluate all the information gathered.
- Leonardo AW159 Wildcat conducts first successful firings of Thales ‘Martlet’ LMM
- COVID-19 – 3 British Army AW159 Wildcats have been deployed to support UK with COVID-19
- Leonardo celebrates the tenth anniversary of AW159 Wildcat’s first flight
- AW159 Wildcat helps HMS Dragon to record eighth drugs haul – value £145m in six months
- 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