The UK Ministry of Defense has signed a five-year deal worth £271 million with Leonardo Helicopters to continue support work on the Wildcat helicopters.
The MOD hailed the deal as one that would sustain approximately 500 jobs, primarily at Leonardo’s facilities in Yeovil and Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.
Yeowilton is the home of Wildcat training and maintenance in the UK.
The AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat multi-role helicopter 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.
“This Wildcat deal delivers a key capability for the Royal Navy and Army, and supports vital high-skilled jobs in Somerset, where there’s a proud tradition of supporting UK helicopter operations,” minister for defence procurement, Harriett Baldwin said.
“Wildcat is one of the world’s most advanced helicopters and an important part of the Government’s ten-year £178 billion plan to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they deserve.”
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.