DSEi: Lynx Wildcat aces operating trials

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AgustaWestland brought one of the British Army's future Lynx Wildcat helicopters to the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) show in London, as its flight test programme for the type nears an end.

The aircraft on display is the third of 62 production Lynx Wildcats that will be manufactured for the army and the UK Royal Navy, with deliveries to start early next year. Eight of the aircraft are currently on the assembly line at the company's Yeovil site in Somerset.

Flight testing of the Lynx Wildcat has now reached 350h. Only another 38h must be logged using two of its three prototypes.

"Flight testing has gone extremely well. We are very confident in the aircraft," said David Hillcoat, AgustaWestland programme manager.

RAF Lynx Wildcat at DSEi, Andrew Costerton/Flightglobal
 © Andrew Costerton/Flightglobal

Recent activities have included taking the programme's first prototype to Colorado, USA, to undergo "hot and high" operating trials. Around 45 flight hours were logged, and the aircraft "performed as we had planned," Hillcoat said.

Another aircraft has been flown in the UK carrying dummy Thales lightweight multirole missiles, in eight different load configurations. The weapon is on order to arm navy examples of the Lynx Wildcat.

The first ship/helicopter operating limits trials will be conducted in October, using the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Argus.

"Our main milestone will be securing initial release to service in February," said Hillcoat. "Live flying will start in March, and the first aircraft will be delivered to the army in April."

Around six of the type should be handed over to the service next year, with its first pilots to begin training in March.

Operations with the new Lynx Wildcat fleet will be centred at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, with the navy scheduled to take delivery of its first of the aircraft during 2013.

AgustaWestland is promoting the aircraft for export sale as the AW159, and has identified Denmark as a possible buyer.