AgustaWestland AW159 makes first flight


The latest generation Lynx, the AgustaWestland AW159 multi-role military helicopter, successfully completed its maiden flight at the company’s Yeovil facility in southwest England with Chief Test Pilot Donald Maclaine at the controls.

The aircraft Thursday completed a range of general handling checks during the flight and performed as expected.

It will be joined by two further aircraft next year to complete the flight testing of the airframe and the wide range of role equipment the aircraft will carry.

“The successful first flight of the AW159 is great company achievement,” said AgustaWestland CE Giuseppe Orsi.

The rotorcraft was designed and developed to meet the UK MoD’s “demanding requirements for a multi-role military helicopter”, he added.

“Our highly skilled engineers and technicians can be proud to have achieved this remarkable result on schedule and on budget, so confirming our commitment to maintaining critical design, engineering and technological know-how in the UK to go on effectively supporting the MoD.”

Nick Whitney, VP of the AgustaWestland UK Government Business Unit said the “fact the AW159 programme has achieved every major milestone on time and on budget is great testament to the Strategic Partnering Arrangement and the commitment of our supply chain.

“The AW159 promises to continue the remarkable success the Lynx has achieved in service worldwide and we, along with our partners, are now focused on completing the development of the aircraft and delivering the first aircraft in 2011.”

The aircraft will be known as Lynx Wildcat in UK military service.

Britain ordered 62 of the six metric ton helicopters for the Army and Royal Navy to perform both land and maritime missions.

The first aircraft will be delivered in 2011 with the aircraft becoming fully operational with the British Army in 2014 and the Royal Navy in 2015.

The British Army’s AW159 Lynx Wildcat will perform a wide range of tasks on the battlefield including reconnaissance, command and control, transportation of troops and materiel, and the provision of force protection.

The Royal Navy variant will provide an agile maritime capability providing anti-surface warfare capability and force protection and will operate in support of amphibious operations and be an important element in defending ships against surface threats. There will be a high degree of commonality between the Army and Royal Navy helicopters that will mean that an aircraft can switch roles easily, principally through the changing of role equipment.

The Army Air Corps and Fleet Air Arm currently fly the SuperLynx.