Less than four weeks after delivering the 62nd and final AW159 Wildcat to the UK Ministry of Defence, Leonardo has signed a £271m (€320m) Wildcat Integrated Support & Training (WIST) contract with the UK MoD.
The WIST contract will support the 62 AW159 Wildcats now in-service with the British Army and Royal Navy for the next five years as part of an ongoing contract. The contract supports the objectives of the 10-year Strategic Partnering Arrangement signed by Leonardo and the UK Ministry of Defence in July 2016.
The Royal Navy’s maritime Wildcat forms the core of the UK’s Frigate and Destroyer aviation capability and performs tasks including Anti-Surface and Submarine Warfare, force protection, transport and the vital information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role. Similarly, the Army variant performs reconnaissance, command and control, force protection, and transport roles in a wide variety of environments.
The five-year WIST contract was announced by Harriett Baldwin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, during a visit to Leonardo’s Yeovil facility in South West England. The contract will commence 1st April 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 MoD underlines that the contract will directly sustain 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 & Space Systems Division for the radar and defensive aids systems, located in Edinburgh and Luton.
Other key subcontractors supporting the WIST programme include Thales UK 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, i.e. Leonardo is incentivised 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 for the UK MoD’s AW101 Merlin, Sea King and Apache AH Mk.1 helicopter fleets.