Leonardo Awarded £271 Million AW159 Wildcat Integrated Support & Training (WIST) Contract by UK Ministry of Defence
(Source: Leonardo; issued Jan 09, 2017)
The new contract will begin on April 1 and sets the price that MoD will pay for Wildcat training and support over the next five years of the 30-year WIST contract awarded in 2012. (RO photo)
Leonardo has been awarded a £271 million (approximately €320 million) contract by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to deliver support and training services for their fleet of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters operated by the British Army and Royal Navy.

The five-year contract was announced by Harriett Baldwin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, during a visit today to Leonardo’s Yeovil facility in South West England. The contract will commence 1st April 2017 and confirms the price the MOD will pay for Wildcat training and support for the next five years of the 30 year WIST contract awarded in 2012.

The WIST contract includes a spares provisioning service, enhanced technical support services including aircraft safety management, as well as delivering synthetic and ground based training for both aircrew and maintainers.

The contract directly sustains over 500 skilled industry jobs, mainly in the South West of England at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, where the Wildcat Training Centre and zonal maintenance facilities are located, and at Leonardo’s Yeovil factory. Leonardo’s contribution also involves its Airborne & Space Systems division for the radar and defensive aids systems, located in Edinburgh and Luton. Other key subcontractors supporting the WIST programme include Thales UK for communication and aircraft management systems, located in Crawley and Morson who provide aircraft maintenance and support staff, mainly at RNAS Yeovilton.

The WIST contract is output-based, whereby Leonardo is incentivised to improve the levels of operational output whilst seeking continuous improvement to reduce through life costs. The contract is similar to the Integrated Operational Support (IOS) availability based contracts that Leonardo Helicopters is successfully delivering for the UK MoD’s AW101 Merlin, Sea King and Apache AH Mk.1 helicopter fleets.

On 14th December 2016 Leonardo handed over the 62nd and final AW159 Wildcat to the UK MoD before it made the short delivery flight to RNAS Yeovilton, the main operating base for British Army and Royal Navy AW159 Wildcats.

Leonardo signed a new 10-year Strategic Partnering Arrangement (SPA) with the UK Ministry of Defence in July 2016, which focusses on delivering ever increasing value to the UK taxpayer on current contracts, including WIST, the continued growth of exports and the identification and subsequent investment in the development of new technologies and capabilities. The joint intent of the SPA is to exploit the identified technologies onto both existing in-service platforms as well as future manned and unmanned platforms.

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Wildcat Helicopter Locks in 500 UK Jobs
(Source: British Forces News; issued Jan 09, 2016)
A £271 million contract with Leonardo Helicopters will 'preserve hundreds of UK jobs and update the military’s helicopter fleet', according to the MoD.

Leonardo maintains the Wildcat, which is based at the Royal Naval Air Station in Yeovilton, Somerset.

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.

Both Navy and Army Wildcats are housed at the Royal Naval Air Station.

The five-year deal will deliver a range of support and training services for the UK’s entire fleet of 62 AW159 Wildcats, 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.

Chief Executive Officer for the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Organisation, Tony Douglas, said:

“This agreement builds on many decades of joint working between the MOD and Leonardo helicopters, recently recognised through the signature of a Strategic Partnering Arrangement with the company. The deal for Wildcat support has been designed to guarantee value for money for the taxpayer by delivering the required levels of operational output at a reduced cost”.

“Wildcat is a world-leading aircraft perfectly suited to operations on board the Royal Navy’s front-line warships such as the Type 23 Frigate, Type 45 Destroyer and Type 26 Global Combat Ship and in delivering the British Army’s airborne battlefield tasks, such as reconnaissance, command and control and force protection. Advanced design and capabilities will enable it to support the Royal Navy and British Army for decades to come”.

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 10-year £178bn plan to provide our armed forces with the equipment they deserve."

The Wildcat will replace the Lynx Mk8, which is slowly being retired after 35 years in service.

The Lynx should all be replaced this year.

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