PICTURE: Third Lynx Wildcat joins flight test fleet

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AgustaWestland's third and final AW159 Lynx Wildcat test aircraft has joined the company's operational fleet.

First flown from its Yeovil site in Somerset on 19 November, aircraft TI3 underwent a series of general handling checks, and "performed as expected", the company says. The latest test asset will be dedicated to tasks including load survey work and to supporting ship helicopter operating limit trials ahead of the type's future use by the UK Royal Navy.

 
© AgustaWestland

AgustaWestland says the Lynx Wildcat programme - left unscathed by the UK's recent Strategic Defence and Security Review - "continues to be on time and on budget". The manufacturer will deliver a total of 62 aircraft from late 2011 for use by the British Army and RN, with GKN Aerospace having delivered the first production airframe during July.

The Lynx Wildcat programme is expected to cost almost £1.7 billion ($2.7 billion), according to data included in the UK National Audit Office's Major Projects Report 2010 publication.