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How powerful is the British-owned Leonardo AW159 Wildcat helicopter

In 1995 the British Government announced that the Royal Navy’s Westland Lynx helicopters will be replaced. In 2002 a Future Lynx project originated. A Westland Super Lynx 300 helicopter was proposed to meet both British Army and Royal Navy requirements to replace the ageing Lynx helicopters. In 2006 UK Ministry of Defense awarded a contract for 70 new helicopters. This number was later cut back though. Production commenced in 2007.

Until 2009 this new helicopter was called the Lynx Wildcat. However since 2009 this helicopter is marketed under the AgustaWestland brand. It is worth noting that back in 2000 Agusta of Italy and Westland Helicopters of the United Kingdom merged and formed AgustaWestland.

The Super Lynx / AW159 made its first flight in 2009. Initial deliveries began in 2011. There are utility, reconnaissance and anti-surface ωλɾʄλɾɛ versions of this multi-role helicopter. In 2014 the AgustaWestland AW159 was officially adopted by the British Army and Royal Navy as the Wildcat where it replaced the old Westland Lynx helicopters. South Korea was the first export customer to order this new helicopter. There the AW159 won competition against the MH-60R Seahawk. An order for 8 choppers was placed in 2013. These helicopters will be used by the South Korean Navy.

The AW159 is a further development of extremely successful Westland Super Lynx. There are two versions of this multi-role helicopter, intended for the British Army and Royal Navy. Both versions have a common airframe that has a wheeled undercarriage. Some of the AW159 helicopters are used by the British special forces.

The AgustaWestland AW159 is a twin-engined helicopter. Even though it looks similar to the Westland Lynx, it has significant design differences. 95% of the components are new and only 5% are interchangeable with the latest versions of the Lynx (AH.7 and HMA.8 variants).

The AW159 is operated by 2 pilots. It can carry 7 to 9 passengers. One of the passenger can operate a door-mounted machine gun. The army version has a 7.62 mm machine gun, while the naval version is fitted with a much more powerful 12.7 mm machine gun.

This helicopter is powered by two LHTEC CTS800-4N turboshaft engines, developing 1 361 shp each. These engines are produced by a joint venture of Rolls-Royce and Honeywell. Certain elements, such as the tail rotor and tail boom, have been redesigned for greater durability and stealth qualities. The new AW159 is a capable machine. The original Westland Lynx was arguably the most capable and versatile helicopter in its class.

The helicopter can carry CRV7 or other unoperated rockets. It can carry four Thales Martlet lightweight multi-role air-to-surface missiles. Alternatively it can carry four Sea Venom lightweight anti-ship missiles. These ωɛλρσɳs are effective against small boats and fast attack craft. Both of these missiles can target ships and land targets. The naval version can also carry two Sting Ray torpedoes or depth charges.

The AW159 is equipped with advanced avionics suite and sensors. This helicopter has some defensive systems.

Variants:

Wildcat AH.1. It is referred as battlefield reconnaissance and assault helicopter, rather than utility helicopter. A total of 30 were ordered by the British Army. It is also used by the Royal Navy.

Wildcat HMA.2 navalized anti-surface and anti-submarine ωλɾʄλɾɛ, utility and search and rescue helicopter. It has Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, electro-optical / infrared device for imaging and target designation. It also has an active dipping sonar. A total of 28 were ordered by the Royal Navy. It might become a primary Royal Navy ship based helicopter.

Territorial Army ground crew reservists are pictured during a training exercise with the new Wildcat helicopter.
It was the Army’s first opportunity to work with the helicopter which is due in service in 2014.
6 Regiment Army Air Corps (Volunteers) is based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Its role is to provide ground crew for Apache and Lynx helicopters as reinforcements to other Army Air Corps regiments, both on exercise and operations.
With the emergence of the Wildcat, which will replace the current Lynx helicopter, training will be targeted to encompass this new capability, and this exercise provided the reservists with the opportunity to learn about working with the new Wildcat and become familiar with its refuelling and resupply.
The Wildcat will perform a range of tasks on the battlefield including reconnaissance, transportation of troops and materiel, and the provision of force protection. It will be significantly more powerful than the current Lynx, enabling it to operate in extreme hot conditions and at high altitudes.

<Source:http://www.military-today.com/helicopters/aw_159.htm>

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