FARNBOROUGH: Lynx Wildcat makes show debut

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AgustaWestland is giving a show debut of its Lynx Wildcat multi-role helicopter, with the type now in production for the British Army and UK Royal Navy, and also being offered to export customers.

Sporting a new two-tone grey colour scheme, the programme's second of three prototypes is due to make its first flight from Yeovil, Somerset around mid-August. The third should follow suit in October.

The programme's first prototype has logged more than 30 flight hours since November, supporting assessment work on the new design's flight performance. It is on the ground awaiting the installation of a production-configuration tail rotor, and will resume flight tests during August.

GKN Aerospace earlier this month delivered the first production main fuselage under the 62-aircraft Lynx Wildcat contract, and final assembly work started in Yeovil last week.

 
© Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal

"We're on schedule and on cost, and the programme is going well," says David Hillcoat, AgustaWestland's head of Lynx. The company is also on contract to integrate the MBDA Sea Skua 2 and Thales lightweight multirole missile with the new aircraft (above), which will enter frontline service in 2014.

AgustaWestland hosted an export conference on the internationally-branded AW159 in late April, which attracted delegations from 10 Asian, European and North African countries. "We're at Farnborough to consolidate on that," says Hillcoat, who identifies existing Lynx operator Denmark as having a strong requirement for the type.

The UK's Lynx Wildcat order will see aircraft delivered at a rate of one per month until 2017, but AgustaWestland's new pulse production line could support a rate of 2.5 per month. Final assembly will eventually take three months to complete.

AgustaWestland meanwhile delivered its 10th of 22 upgraded Lynx AH9As to the British Army on 14 July. Four of the improved type, which uses the Lynx Wildcat's LHTEC CTS800-4N engines, are being used in Afghanistan. "The aircraft are performing in an exceptional way," Hillcoat says. "It's a real success story for the company."