Taming the Wildcat

We like a good exclusive here onFlightglobal, so I was happy to get the chance to tag along with our helicoptertest pilot Peter Gray in late April, as he became the first civilian to flyAgustaWestland’s new AW159.

Wildcat 640.jpg
Being delivered as the Wildcat to theBritish Army and UK Royal Navy (which have so far received 14 and fourexamples, respectively), the 6t type is intended to perform battlefieldreconnaissance and ship-based surveillance and strike tasks for the services.AgustaWestland also has already won its first export success with the type,with the South Korean navy’s first of eight anti-submarine/anti-surface warfareaircraft to enter final assembly next year.

The AW159 has had a 50:50 success rate ininternational competitions so far in its short life (the first prototype wasflown in 2009); winning in South Korea but losing out to Sikorsky’s MH-60RSeahawk in a nine-aircraft contest in Denmark.

AgustaWestland has effectively ditched theproduct name Lynx for its new aircraft, as part of an effort to promote anextended family of products for the military, civilian, VIP transport and othersectors. That might seem a bit drastic, given the long-term success of thatbrand, but as our flight test report explains, while the AW159 might look afair bit like the Lynx of old, it’s an entirely different beast.

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