The UK Minister for Defence (MoD) Procurement Harriett Baldwin has confirmed that work on the AW159 Wildcat helicopter will continue in the country.
The AW159 Wildcat helicopter has been developed by Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil, England.
Several options were recently considered that would see the fabrication work for future AW159 helicopter orders relocated overseas.
Leonardo Helicopters conducted an analysis of the potential relocation in collaboration with the MoD, which led to the company confirming that it will continue to perform all future construction for AW159 helicopters in the UK.
The export version of the Wildcat helicopters is already in service with the British Army and British Royal Navy.
The majority of the work on the project is expected to be carried out at Leonardo’s Somerset facility, and will sustain 40 jobs across the UK supply chain.
Baldwin said: “I am delighted that a solution for UK-based fabrication for the AW159 helicopter has been identified between the MoD and Leonardo Helicopters.
“This is an agreement that secures Yeovil as the home of AW159 and Wildcat production and maintenance in the UK.”
“This work has not only helped sustain 40 highly skilled jobs within the UK, but will act as a positive boost for the company and, through improved cost-effectiveness, their export customers.”
Wildcat is a versatile aircraft that can perform a wide a range of tasks both over land and at sea, including anti-surface and submarine warfare, force protection and transport, as well as vital information, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations.
The MoD signed a five-year, £271m deal to provide several support and training services for the UK’s fleet of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters earlier this year.
The contract will help generate 500 jobs at Leonardo facilities in Yeovil and Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.
Image: A Wildcat helicopter. Photo: courtesy of PO (Phot) Si Ethell / MoD.