UK Royal Navy’s Wildcat fleet gets first new fifth-generation sensors

22 December 2020 (Last Updated December 23rd, 2020 04:36)

The UK Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm 815 Naval Air Squadron engineers’ team has successfully installed the first new fifth-generation sensors on the Wildcat helicopter fleet.

UK Royal Navy’s Wildcat fleet gets first new fifth-generation sensors
The IFF’s latest edition, Mode 5, was installed on the Wildcat helicopters. Credit: Royal Navy.

The UK Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm 815 Naval Air Squadron engineers’ team has successfully installed the first new fifth-generation sensors on the Wildcat helicopter fleet.

The latest Identification Friend or Foe system (IFF) Mode 5 will help the helicopter to better support crucial security patrols operations in the Gulf.

The system is designed to enable forces to know if the aircraft detected on radar are friendly or hostile.

The upgraded Wildcats replaced the helicopters that were operating aboard the UK Navy’s HMS Montrose and ‘HMS Argyll’ vessels.

The navy ships and helicopters are working alongside US forces in the Gulf, said the Royal Navy.

UK Navy senior maintenance rating chief petty officer Jay Partington said: “No such luck I’m afraid – it required an entirely new IFF system integrating with the current mission systems on the Wildcat.

“Not something that was going to happen overnight.”

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the engineers had only three weeks to install the equipment in Somerset and prepare the Wildcat helicopters for their 3,500-mile journey to the Middle East.

The Wildcats joined the ships after successful flight tests.

Jay added: “Everything took that little longer and you had to put that bit more effort in. Everyone worked tirelessly to have the Mode 5 aircraft ready to embark when their ships sailed.

“The ‘can-do safely’ attitude and determination by everyone involved at every level meant that there was no gap in operational output.”

In April, the UK Royal Navy’s three Commando Merlin helicopters and a Wildcat successfully concluded vital reconnaissance sorties over Bermuda.