£271m Wildcat Helicopter support deal sustains 500 UK jobs
David McQuade - January 9, 2017

The MOD has signed a £271m deal with Leonardo Helicopters to continue to support world-leading Wildcat helicopters, protecting hundreds of highly-skilled British jobs.

The overwhelming majority (over eighty per cent) of the c. 500 jobs sustained will be at Leonardo’s facilities in Yeovil and Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, the home of Wildcat training and maintenance in the UK. A further hundred jobs will be maintained in Leonardo’s supply chain.

Wildcat is a highly versatile aircraft, capable of a wide a range of tasks over land and sea. The Royal Navy’s maritime Wildcat forms the core of the UK’s Frigate and Destroyer aviation capability and performs tasks including Anti-Surface and Submarine Warfare, force protection, transport and the vital information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role. Similarly, the Army variant performs reconnaissance, command and control, force protection, and transport roles in a wide variety of environments.

The five-year deal will deliver a range of support and training services for the UK’s entire fleet of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters, currently in service with the Royal Navy and Army Air Corps. Wildcat operators include 825 and 847 Naval Air Squadron and 652 and 661 Squadron Army Air Corps.

The new Wildcat Integrated Support and Training (WIST) contract will also support jobs in Edinburgh and Luton, where Leonardo manufacture defensive aids systems, and Crawley, where subcontractor Thales UK provide support to communication and aircraft management systems.

The WIST deal, which confirms the terms for the next five-year period of the 30-year contract signed in 2012, supports the objectives of the Strategic Partnering Arrangement signed between Leonardo Helicopters and the MOD in 2016. This agreement lays out shared commitments to cost effectiveness and the pursuit of export opportunities.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin said:

“This Wildcat deal delivers a key capability for the Royal Navy and Army, and supports vital high-skilled jobs in Somerset, where there’s a proud tradition of supporting UK helicopter operations.

Wildcat is one of the world’s most advanced helicopters and an important part of the Government’s ten-year £178 billion plan to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they deserve.”