The UK Royal Navy’s (RN) Wildcat HMA Mk 2 helicopter has successfully completed the ship helicopter operating limitations (SHOL) trials.
It was carried out under the supervision of Wildcat Delivery Team, under Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) procurement arm.
The DE&S’ team contracted QinetiQ and Air Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC) for the execution of the SHOL trials, which involved participation of over 30 people.
The trials were conducted aboard Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessel Argus in the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions.
During the trials, a specially instrumented Wildcat helicopter conducted 894 deck take-off and landing operations and was flown for 87 hours continuously for 19 days.
The tests involved evaluating seven different weapon configurations, including missiles under ‘weapon wings’, with the helicopter.
Wildcat also proved its capability to efficiently operate as part of a Carrier Strike Group in challenging weather conditions and deck motions.
Furthermore, the helicopter proved its operational flexibility by using heavy calibre machine-gun, while its one side was loaded.
DE&S Wildcat Delivery Team leader Steve Jose said: “The conduct of a SHOL trial gathers necessary safety information and operating limitations to inform how an aircraft can be operated at sea.”
The latest trials proved that Wildcat can efficiently handle the newest missile systems.
Besides, the data from these trials, once analysed, will allow the air and ground crews to operate Wildcat helicopter, armed with FASGW, aboard different warships, destroyers, auxiliaries and the RN’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.