Leonardo-Finmeccanica has been awarded £271 million contract to support and provide training of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters operated by the British Army and Royal Navy.
The deal is an important part of the Government’s ten-year £178 billion plan to provide its Armed Forces, according to Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin.
The Royal Navy’s maritime Wildcat forms the core of the UK’s Frigate and Destroyer aviation capability and performs tasks including Anti-Surface and Submarine Warfare, force protection, transport and the vital information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role. Similarly, the Army variant performs reconnaissance, command and control, force protection, and transport roles in a wide variety of environments.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin said, “The five-year deal will deliver a range of support and training services for the UK’s entire fleet of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters, currently in service with the Royal Navy and Army Air Corps. Wildcat operators include 825 and 847 Naval Air Squadron and 652 and 661 Squadron Army Air Corps.”
The new Wildcat Integrated Support and Training (WIST) contract will also support jobs in Edinburgh and Luton, where Leonardo manufacture defensive aids systems, and Crawley, where subcontractor Thales UK provide support to communication and aircraft management systems.
Chief Executive Officer for the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Organisation, Tony Douglas, said, “The deal for Wildcat support has been designed to guarantee value for money for the taxpayer by delivering the required levels of operational output at a reduced cost.”
Wildcat is an aircraft suited to operations on board the Royal Navy’s front line warships such as the Type 23 Frigate, Type 45 Destroyer and Type 26 Global Combat Ship and in delivering the British Army’s airborne battlefield tasks, such as reconnaissance, command and control and force protection. Advanced design and capabilities will enable it to support the Royal Navy and British Army for decades to come.
The WIST deal, which confirms the terms for the next five-year period of the 30-year contract signed in 2012, supports the objectives of the Strategic Partnering Arrangement signed between Leonardo Helicopters and the MOD in 2016. This agreement lays out shared commitments to cost effectiveness and the pursuit of export opportunities.