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The AgstaWestland (now Leonardo) AW159 Wildcat is a modern light helicopter that is an evolved development of the Westland Super Lynx. The Wildcat is being produced in two different versions, a battlefield support and a maritime support variant, with both sharing structural and airframe commonality. The Wildcat can be produced as a new build airframe or a Lynx/Super Lynx can be used as a donor airframe to lower costs, with the Wildcat sharing 5% of its parts in common. In addition to the UK, the type is also flown by the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy.
The UK ordered 34 Wildcats for the Army and 28 for the Royal Navy to replace the Lynx in service with both arms. The Army variant is known as the Wildcat AH1 and is primarily used for battlefield reconnaissance and transport. The naval version is used for transport roles but also for anti-surface warfare when operating from other Naval Vessels. In addition to being equipped with a sea-scanning radar, the Wildcat HMA2 can carry a mix of up to 20 Martlet short range and 4 Sea Venom heavy strike anti-surface missiles. During September 2022 a Wildcat HMA2 laser designated a target which was then attacked by an RAF Typhoon with a Paveway IV bomb.
Whilst the Army own and operate the UK Wildcat AH1 fleet, they are all under the command of Joint Helicopter Command (JHC). The JHC combines all the battlefield helicopters of the Army Air Corps, Royal Navy and RAF under a single military command structure centralised around the Army. The JHC will be sending a Wildcat AH1 to appear in this year's Air Tattoo. Photo Credit: RIAT Volunteer