The Republic of Korea Navy has awarded a contract to AgustaWestland for its AW159 Wildcat helicopter, marking the first export order for the aircraft.
Selected to fulfil its maritime operational helicopter requirements, the navy has requested eight AW159 helicopters, including aircrew and maintainer training, initial spares and support services.
AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini said the Korea Navy already operates a large fleet of Super Lynx helicopters and the AW159 selection would represent a combination of capability and value for money when compared with larger helicopters.
Fitted with anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and a door-mounted gun, the Korean AW159 aircraft will feature various mission equipment including an active dipping sonar, 360° scan radar, nose-mounted electro-optical device and a rescue hoist.
Powered by two LHTEC CTS800-4N engines, the multi-role military helicopter is integrated with four large cockpit displays and an avionics suite for enhanced mission capabilities and crew effectiveness.
Capable of operating from shore and ship bases, the helicopter can perform missions such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, search-and-rescue, maritime security and maritime surveillance.
UK Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green said: "The Korean Government and its defence acquisition and programme administration conducted a thorough and transparent competition, and the UK Government will do all it can to ensure a smooth introduction of AW159 into service with the Republic of Korea Navy."
Scheduled to begin in 2015, deliveries of the aircraft to the Korean Navy will be completed in 2016.
The helicopter was also selected by the UK Ministry of Defence in 2006 to replace Lynx helicopters, which are currently in service.
Around 28 Wildcats will be delivered to the Royal Navy aviation arm to perform various maritime attack missions, while 34 aircraft will be provided to the UK Army.
Image: The Republic of Korea Navy’s maritime operational helicopter, the AW159. Photo: © 2012 AgustaWestland – A Finmeccanica Company.