Weapons Plan: A deal has been signed to integrate two missile types onto the AW159. (AgustaWestland)
LONDON — AgustaWestland has signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence for platform integration of the two new missile types planned to arm AW159 Wildcat helicopters, scheduled to enter service with the Royal Navy.
The deal has been signed for some time but so far has been kept under wraps.
Industry sources say the contract is likely to be announced by the government at the Farnborough International Airshow, which gets underway July 14.
The value of the contract and the completion timelines are not known at this time.
An AgustaWestland spokeswoman declined to comment
The long-awaited announcement would be the last of three deals announced by the British government this year aimed at equipping the Wildcat with medium- and short-range surface attack missiles.
In March, Britain and France agreed to invest £500 million (US $856.8 million) in joint development of MBDA’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy) (FASGW(H) missile.
That was followed up last month by a £48 million deal with Thales UK for the demonstration and manufacture of its Lightweight Multirole Missile for the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Light) role on the Wildcat.
The weapons will give the helicopter the ability to combat corvettes, fast patrol craft and smaller maritime targets. The helicopter is also armed with lightweight torpedoes and machine guns.
Delays in contract awards, particularly for the FASGW(H) missile, mean the new surface attack weapons are not scheduled to enter service until the end of the decade, some five years after the helicopter itself enters service.
Known as the Lynx Wildcat in Royal Navy service, the helicopter was ordered by the MoD in 2005 to replace the current Lynx fleet.
Twenty eight machines will be delivered to the Royal Navy with an in-service date of 2015.
A further 34 Wildcats are already being delivered to the British Army for reconnaissance duties.
The South Korean Navy has also ordered the helicopter but the Asian nation is fitting Rafael’s Spike missile for its medium-range surface attack requirements.