£360m contract signed for the Wildcat WIST programme

A total of 340 jobs are due to be sustained with Leonardo at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, and other companies due to a five-year £360m support and training contract being renewed with Leonardo Helicopters UK.

Other jobs will be supported at supplier companies such as, Morson Group and Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company.  This is the third five-year pricing period of the Wildcat Integrated Support and Training (WIST) programme, this stage commenced on April 1 and will last until March 31, 2027.

AAC Wildcat
An Army Air Corps reconnaissance Wildcat in Oman. Crown copyright

The contract renewal is part of the 34-year WIST programme approved in 2011. Spares provisions, a three-year scheduled maintenance service, enhanced technical support including aircraft safety management, as well as delivering synthetic and ground-based training for aircrew and aircraft maintainers are included in the contract.

Simon Jones, VP of Customer Support and Training at Leonardo, said:  “The next tranche of the Wildcat Integrated Support and Training contract ensures the British Armed Forces have the right equipment, training and support to continue to meet their operational needs.

Four Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters sit on RNAS Yeovilton's apron before being deployed to Lithuania. Crown Copyright

“Through collaboration and partnerships, WIST maintains UK rotary wing capabilities onshore through the centre’s cutting-edge technologies and a highly-skilled workforce.”

After deploying on the maiden deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth, part of Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21), the Wildcat played a key role providing a multi role capability. These capabilities include attack with the helicopter being able to release a range of weapons including missiles, torpedoes and guns. During CSG21 the Wildcat HMA MK2 successfully test fired the Martlet missile system in the Bay of Bengal.

Martlet Wildcat
A Royal Navy Wildcat successfully fires the Martlet missile system, marking initial operating capability during Carrier Strike Group 21. Crown copyright

The Wildcat AH MK1 can perform multiple other operations. These include, troop and equipment transportation, force protection utilising its general purpose and heavy machine guns, reconnaissance, made possible via its high speeds and endurance. The Wildcat can also act as a command-and-control station, with the cabin being capable of hosting Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs).

Already boasting a diverse range of capabilities, the Wildcat is only due to develop further. A significant increase in capability will be witnessed in a few years after it receives a secure tactical data link to enhance its connectivity to other assets in the theatre of operations.