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Leonardo announced it has been awarded a £271 million (approx. US$330 million) contract by the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD) to deliver support and training services for its fleet of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters operated by the British Army and Royal Navy. The five-year contract was announced by Harriett Baldwin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, during a visit on Jan. 9, 2017, to Leonardo’s Yeovil facility in South West England.
The contract will commence on April 1, 2017, and confirms the price the MOD will pay for Wildcat training and support for the next five years of the 30-year WIST contract awarded in 2012.
The WIST contract includes a spares provisioning service, enhanced technical support services including aircraft safety management, as well as delivering synthetic and ground based training for both aircrew and maintainers.
The contract directly sustains over 500 skilled industry jobs, mainly in the South West of England at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, where the Wildcat Training Centre and zonal maintenance facilities are located, and at Leonardo’s Yeovil factory. Leonardo’s contribution also involves its airborne and space systems division for the radar and defensive aids systems, located in Edinburgh and Luton.
Other key subcontractors supporting the WIST program include Thales U.K. for communication and aircraft management systems, located in Crawley and Morson, who provide aircraft maintenance and support staff, mainly at RNAS Yeovilton.
The WIST contract is output-based, whereby Leonardo is incentivized to improve the levels of operational output whilst seeking continuous improvement to reduce through life costs. The contract is similar to the integrated operational support (IOS) availability based contracts that Leonardo Helicopters is successfully delivering for the U.K. MoD’s AW101 Merlin, Sea King and Apache AH Mk1 helicopter fleets.
On 14th December 2016 Leonardo handed over the 62nd and final AW159 Wildcat to the UK MoD before it made the short delivery flight to RNAS Yeovilton, the main operating base for British Army and Royal Navy AW159 Wildcats.
Leonardo signed a new 10-year Strategic Partnering Arrangement (SPA) with the UK Ministry of Defence in July 2016, which focusses on delivering ever increasing value to the UK taxpayer on current contracts, including WIST, the continued growth of exports and the identification and subsequent investment in the development of new technologies and capabilities. The joint intent of the SPA is to exploit the identified technologies onto both existing in-service platforms as well as future manned and unmanned platforms.