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Leonardo eyes new sales for AW159 helicopter

Leonardo anticipates future export sales for its AW159 Wildcat helicopter, seen here in British Army Air Corps service. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

Leonardo Helicopters' UK business is confident of securing additional international orders for its AW159 multirole helicopter over the next year, having recently restarted production of the 6 tonne type for an undisclosed export customer.

Speaking on 22 August at an event to anoint the company's Yeovil, Somerset, site as ‘the home of British helicopters', Adam Clarke, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, said the company had seen an upswing in market interest and was pursuing “two or three significant campaigns”.

International sales of the AW159 – the export derivative of the Wildcat helicopter in service with the UK Royal Navy and Army Air Corps – have to date been sluggish, with production at Yeovil paused in 2019 following the delivery of two aircraft to the Philippines. The only other export sale was to South Korea, which previously purchased eight AW159s to meet its Maritime Operations Helicopter (MOH) Batch 1 programme.

In late 2020 South Korea selected the Lockheed Martin MH-60R via US Foreign Military Sales to meet its MOH Batch 2 requirement. The AW159 has also lost out in competitions in Denmark (MH-60R) and Germany (NH90 NFH Sea Tiger).

However, in March 2023 Leonardo acknowledged it had secured an order for three AW159 helicopters at the end of 2022 from a North African customer. While the client has not been identified, it is widely thought to be Algeria (which already operates the company's Super Lynx 300 type).

According to Clarke, the company is looking to follow up on this success. “We are now involved in a number of live competitions [with the AW159],” he told Janes

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