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Future of Leonardo's Yeovil site hinges on Lynx Wildcat

10 January 2017
With deliveries to the UK and South Korea now complete and only a very small number to be built for the Philippines, Leonardo Helicopters is looking for further AW159 Lynx Wildcat sales to secure its Yeovil facility. Source: Crown Copyright

Leonardo Helicopters must secure additional sales of the AW159 Lynx Wildcat if the long-term future of the company's Yeovil production facility in the United Kingdom is to be secured, a senior official said on 9 January.

Speaking at the site on the occasion of a UK government announcement of a five-year GBP271 million (USD329 million) Lynx Wildcat support contract for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Stefano Bortoli, sales and marketing senior vice president at Leonardo Helicopters said that of the three types being manufactured at Yeovil, it is the Lynx Wildcat that holds the key to the site's future.

"It is all about selling new AW159s," he said, adding, "We still have a number of AW101 orders to fulfil for the Norwegian SAR [search and rescue] and Italian Caesar contracts, and the AW189 for the UK SAR contract is now almost done."

Leonardo Helicopters delivered the last of the 28 Lynx Wildcat HMA2 and 34 Lynx Wildcat AH1 helicopters that the UK ordered for the Royal Navy and British Army respectively at the end of 2016, and fulfilled its contract for eight Lynx Wildcats for South Korea at around the same time. With these deliveries now complete, the company has just one other signed contract for the type with the Philippines. While details of this contract, announced in March 2016, have not been disclosed, the Philippine Department of National Defense revealed in 2014 that it was looking for just two new helicopters.

Bortoli declined to say where he thought that future Lynx Wildcat sales might come from, except to say that Leonardo Helicopters was currently involved "in a handful" of active campaigns, which might yield orders. He added that most of the interest is coming from prospective maritime operators, rather than those looking to field it in a battlefield role.

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