The UK Ministry of Defence has released images showing the first flight of a production example of the Royal Navy's new AgustaWestland Wildcat HMA2 helicopter.
Performed from the airframer's Yeovil production site in Somerset, the milestone was reached by aircraft ZZ397, which was previously due to have been accepted by the navy in mid-December 2012.
"The maritime Wildcat attack helicopter will be used in anti-surface warfare, force protection and counter-piracy," the MoD says. "It will also be able to carry out an anti-submarine role."
AgustaWestland will produce 28 Wildcats for the RN and 34 for the British Army under a programme worth more than £1.6 billion ($2.5 billion), with the type to enter use with the services in 2015 and 2014, respectively. The manufacturer will also deliver training and support services under a £250 million agreement signed during 2012.
Also being marketed to potential international customers as the AW159, the Wildcat won its first export competition in January 2013, when the South Korean navy selected the type for an initial eight-aircraft requirement. A contract signature for the roughly $560 million deal is expected soon, with deliveries sought from 2015.
Source: Flight International