Korea has chosen the AgustaWestland AW159 over the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk as its new maritime operational helicopter. The contract for eight aircraft is the first export order for the new-generation aircraft, which is entering service with the British Army and Royal Navy. The Korean Navy already operates about 20 Super Lynx helicopters, the predecessor to the naval version of the AW159.
UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, MP, joined celebrations marking the first deliveries of the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopter to the British Army here at the show yesterday. He simultaneously confirmed a contract worth approximately $388 million for training and support. The AW159 is to remain in service until 2044.
AgustaWestland’s AW159 Lynx Wildcat has moved closer to being fully operational. The initial release into service for the British Army model was issued last April and the first operational flight came on June 18. The AW159 is the successor of the Lynx helicopter family although the only major components in common with the earlier Lynx design are the main rotor blades and rotor head.
Thales UK announced that its lightweight multirole missile (LMM) has been confirmed for maritime strikes by the UK Lynx Wildcat helicopter. The launch order is for 1,000 missiles with guidance by laser-beam rider to meet the UK’s future anti-surface guided weapon (Light) requirement.
The ongoing worldwide need for helicopters of all types that serve diverse industry and government segments is helping keep manufacturers like Rolls-Royce busy. Current Rolls-Royce engine programs include the RR500 turboshaft and turboprop, the already certified RR300 and the venerable M250. The LHTEC T800 partnership with Honeywell also remains active, with four first flights last year.
After a difficult period in which the whole program’s future lay in doubt, AgustaWestland’s Future Lynx has emerged with a new name–AW159 Lynx Wildcat–and renewed optimism. The aircraft was selected by the UK Ministry of Defence in May 2006 to fulfill its battlefield reconnaissance helicopter requirement for the British Army, and a surface combatant maritime rotorcraft requirement for the Royal Navy.
The recent delivery of the last of 16 AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 helicopters to the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) has boosted export prospects for a program that is extending the life of a highly successful design. Oman has bought the Super Lynx, powered by two Rolls-Royce/Honeywell LHTEC CTS800 engines, to replace aging single-engine Bell 205s–an application that should be of interest to other operators of the venerable Huey.
The recent announcement that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a strategic partnering agreement (SPA) with AgustaWestland marks a new chapter in the development of the widely used Lynx helicopter. For, at the same time of the agreement, AgustaWestland was awarded a contract, which launches the Future Lynx program.