The Royal Navy's next-generation AgustaWestland Wildcat helicopter has landed on a Type 45 Destroyer's deck for the first time. The landing paves the way for the Wildcat to start replacing the Fleet Air Arm's Westland Lynx HMA8 helicopter from 2015 onwards.
Currently, the Wildcat is being trialled by 700W Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK. Five Wildcat airframes are being routinely put through their paces ahead of the type's scheduled entry-into-service next year.
Two variants of the Wildcat have been developed - one for the Royal Navy, the other for the British Army. The Fleet Air Arm will get 28 Wildcats and they'll be equipped with two new weapons - the LMM (Lightweight Multirole Missile) and the FASGW (Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon) - along with heavy and general purpose machine guns.
Wildcat Destroyer Landing
The Wildcat Destroyer landing trial involved HMS Dragon - the fourth Type 45 ship produced, which was handed over to the Royal Navy in August 2011. Like its counterparts HMS Daring, HMS Dauntless, HMS Diamond, HMS Defender and HMS Duncan, HMS Dragon is a multirole-capable vessel capable of undertaking surveillance, anti-piracy, disaster relief aid and other missions.
Its flight deck can accommodate two Wildcats or a single Westland Merlin HM1 anti-submarine helicopter and its armament includes the Sea Viper air defence system, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a 4.5 inch Mark 8 naval gun.
Type 45 Deck Trials
"Today is a small, but exciting, step in the progression of this new capability and I am delighted that HMS Dragon was able to help", commanding officer, Captain Iain Lower, explained in a statement on the Type 45 deck trials. "I look forward to seeing what the aircraft can do when we put it through its paces later this month."
"This year will be one of many firsts for the Wildcat crews as we work with our industry partners to get the aircraft to sea as soon as we can", added 700W NAS' commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Simon Collins, in the MoD's Wildcat deck landing press release. "Deck landings on board a Type 45 at sea are a real milestone and it was a pleasure to join the HMS Dragon team to show them what Wildcat can do."