Tag Archives: Wildcat

Bye bye Battlefield Lynx

The Westland Battlefield Lynx Mk7 is no more. The British Army Air Corps said goodbye to the type on 31 July 2015, with a flypast of six Mk7 performing the so-called backflip that is typical for the type.

The Lynx has served the UK for 38 years, being part of major military operations and supporting humanitarian missions. In 2018 the newer Lynx Mk9 is to retire, with all Lynx’s to be replaced by its successor: the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat, dubbed AH1 in Army Air Corps service.

Six Lynx AH7 helicopters form a '7' in the sky. (image © Chris Globe)
Six Lynx Mk7 helicopters form a ‘7’ in the sky. (image © Chris Globe)

The Wildcat is a further development of the Lynx, desinged not only for the ground support role, but for utility and maritime tasks as well. The Republic of Korea Navy has ordered eight of the ASW version, while the United Kingdom ordered 34 Wildcats for the Army Air Corps and 28 for the Fleet Air Arm.

The Wildcat AH1 is able to accommodate 7 passengers, including a door gunner, plus a crew of 2. It has a maximum speed of 157 knots (181 mph / 291 km/h) and a range of 420 nautical miles (777 km). When equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks it can remain airborne for 4.5 hours. Its standard armament includes forward firing machine guns and rockets, a pintle-mounted machine gun in the door plus up to 20 Thales Martlet missiles. The naval HMA2 version can carry up to 4 MBDA Sea Venom anti-surface weapon as well as torpedoes and depth charges.

The AW159 Wildcat in Army Air Corps configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)
The AW159 Wildcat in Army Air Corps configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)

Since August 2014 Wildcat AH1s fly already with 652 Squadron of the Army Air Corps. The Royal Navy’s Wildcat HMA2 went on its first operational cruise onboard Type 23 frigate F229 HMS Lancaster in March 2015, with the Fleet Air Arm flying the HMA2 version with 825 Naval Air Squadron and the AH1 attack version in support of the Royal Marines with 847 NAS.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the UK Ministry of Defence
Featured image: Westland Lynx AH7 during a display at the Red Bull Air Race London 2007 (Image (CC) Tony Hisgett)

Wildcat on first operational cruise

The Royal Navy’s newest anti-surface, troop insertion, (C)SAR, recon, ship protection and utility helicopter, the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat, has gone on its first operational cruise. On board Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster, the Wildcat and crew will patrol the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for the coming nine months.

The final operational landing of a Norwegian Lynx (Image © Mats Grimsæth / Forsvarets Mediesenter)
RELATED POST:
Final bye-bye to Norwegian Lynx
The chopper – officially called 201 Flight of 825 Naval Air Squadron – started operations after the frigate left Portsmouth navy harbour on 21 March 2015.

The AW159 is a further development of the legendary Westland Lynx helicopter. Equipped with new avionics, new missions and COMNAV systems and the possibility to operate newer weapons, the Wildcat has one huge advantage over other maritime helicopters like the NHIndustries NH90: it is smaller and therefore more easy to fit in. Two turboshaft engines with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) provide the chopper of power.

Operated by a pilot and co-pilot/Tactical Coordinator (TACCO) the Wildcat is big enough to accommodate 6 additional persons in crash resistant seating, or 9 passengers in non-crash resistant configuration. While staying airborne for up to 3 hours or fly 300 nautical miles (500 km) before refuelling is needed, the Wildcat can reach speeds of 150 knots (172 mph or 277 km/h) with the ordinary cruise speed being 143 knots (164 mph or 264 km/h). Its operational ceiling is at 15,000 feet. Out at sea the crew should be able to hover all the way up to 4,800 feet.

Eyes and ears
The Wildcat has armoured crew seats and an armoured floor. For its versatile missions it is equipped with a rescue hoist, a cargo hook, a rappelling / fast roping kit, a four bag emergency flotation system and it has a waterproof floor installation. An infrared engine exhaust suppression system is meant to reduce the risk of being detected. Electro-optical sensors, a 360 degree AESA surveillance radar (underneath the nose) and an anti-submarine active dipping sonar give the Wildcat eyes and ears. The chopper can be armed with a forward firing cannon, plus 7.62 or 12.7 mm pintle mounted machine guns, as well as air-to-surface missiles / rockets, torpedoes and depth charges.

Special Forces
The Royal Navy is expected to receive a total of 30 Wildcats, while 30 in battlefield support configuration are destined for the Army Air Corps. Another eight machines have been designated to serve as Light Assault Helicopters with the UK’s Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing. Eight Wildcats have been ordered by the Republic of Korea Navy.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The AW159 Wildcat in Royal Navy configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)

The AW159 Wildcat in Army Air Corps configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)
The AW159 Wildcat in Army Air Corps configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)

Joint Warrior Spring 2014 Participation

Two of the RNLAF AS532U2 Cougar Mk2s are deployed at sea on board the Hs. Ms. L801 Johan de Witt, a landing platform dock (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Two of the RNLAF AS532U2 Cougar Mk2s are deployed at sea on board the Hs. Ms. L801 Johan de Witt, a landing platform dock (Image © Dennis Spronk)

LATEST UPDATE 4 APRIL 2014 22:45 UTC | Kick off on 26 March 2014 for the very large NATO+ naval exercise Joint Warrior – Spring edition. Place of events: the North Sea and coastal areas of Scotland. More than 10,000 military personnel from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, New-Zealand, Norway, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom participate. They put to sea 35 vessels, 35 helicopters and about 30 aircraft. The actual war games take place from 31 March to 10 April and marks the first deployment ever of the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon (US Navy) in Europe!

Footage of 40 Commando Royal Marines in helicopter assault, Joint Warrior 31 March 2014

RAF Lossiemouth will be the main air base of operations for the land based air assets, with RAF Leuchars as the secondary land base. The air assets confirmed to be involved in Joint Warrior Spring 2014 are these units and/or aircraft:

  • Marine (French Navy) Breguet Atlantique from SECBAT (tail nr. 18), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Canadian Air Force Lockheed CP-140 Aurora, two aircraft (140115, 140113 (404 Maritime Patrol and Training Squadron, CFB Greenwood)), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm Westland Wildcat maritime helicopters from 700W Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, UK
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm AgustaWestland Merlin Mk1 shipborne ASW helicopters from 829 Naval Air Squadron, operating from Type 23 frigates
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm AgustaWestland Merlin Mk2 maritime patrol & anti-piracy helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, UK
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm Westland Sea King Mk4 (Commando Helicopter Force) from 845 Naval Air Squadron, operating from Helicopter Carrier HMS Illustrious
  • Royal Netherlands Air Force Eurocopter (Airbus Helicopters) AS532U2 Cougar Mk2 transport helicopters from 300 Squadron (Gilze Rijen AB), two embarked on the LPD L801 Johan de Witt
  • Royal New Zealand Air Force Lockheed P-3K Orion from 5 Squadron (NZ2403) (Whenuapai Mil), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm BAe Hawk T1 advanced jet trainers from 736 Naval Air Squadron (RNAS Culdrose), at least 4 aircraft (incl. no. XX170, XX301, and XX316), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed P-3C Orion (3298 “Viking”) from 333 skvadron (Andøya AB), operating from RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules (5629 “Nanna”) from 353 skvadron (Gardermoen IAP), flying in supplies to RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Air Force BAe Hawk T2 advanced jet trainers from 4(R) Squadron, RAF Valley
  • Royal Air Force BAe Hawk T1 advanced jet trainers from 100 Squadron, RAF Leeming
  • Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 interdicter strike aircraft from IX Squadron, RAF Marham
  • Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role fighters from XI Squadron, RAF Coningsby
  • Royal Air Force Boeing E-3D Sentry AWACS from 8 Squadron, RAF Waddington
  • Royal Air Force Airbus Voyager tanker (A330 MRTT) from 10 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton
  • Royal Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules from 47 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton
  • Royal Air Force BAe 125 CC3 (ZD703) liaison jet from RAF Northolt, flying in RAF Lossiemouth 29 March 2014
  • Royal Air Force Agusta Westland Merlin HC3 medium-lift helicopters from either 28(AC) Squadron and/or 78 Squadron, RAF Benson
  • Royal Air Force Boeing Chinook medium-lift helicopters from either 7 and/or 18 and/or 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham
  • Army Air Corps Boeing/Westland WAH-64 Apache attack helicopters
  • Army Air Corps Boeing Chinook transport helicopters, incl. from 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham
  • Army Air Corps Aérospatiale Puma transport helicopters
  • Army Air Corps Lynx Mk9A
  • US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol & surveillance aircraft, from VP-5 (436) (NAS Jacksonville), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • US Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion MPA, two aircraft from VP-10 (161413, 885) (NAS Jacksonville), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • US Navy Lockheed NP-3 Orion MPA test aircraft, from VX-20 (158204) (NAS Patuxent River), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • US Navy Sikorsky SH-60 and MH-60 Seahawk shipborne maritime helicopters on board the cruisers USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) guided-missile destroyers USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), USS Cole (DDG 67), USS Ross (DDG 71), guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B Roberts (FFG 58), and fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawa (T-AO 196)
  • US Navy Lockheed C-130T-30 Hercules (no. 4598) from VR-55 (NAS Point Mugu) flying in supplies to RAF Lossiemouth

Sources: Koninklijke Marine / Royal Navy / US Navy and several aviation enthousiasts with the latest on-site confirmations.

RAF Typhoon ZJ803 during an earlier training (Image © Marcel Burger)
Britain is likely to give the Joint Warrior naval fleet simulated air threats with RAF Typhoons like this one
(Image © Marcel Burger)

The 12th USN P-8A Poseidon taking-off from Boeing Field, Seattle (Image © Boeing)
The 12th USN P-8A Poseidon taking-off from Boeing Field, Seattle (Image © Boeing)