The Royal Navy has unveiled its new helicopters during a trade visit in Korea.
The Portsmouth-based warship HMS Lancaster welcomed the new Wildcat aircraft as South Korean naval aviators watched it land on and take off during a flying demonstration.
The helicopter is the newest AgustaWestland helicopter, the AW 159. The ‘Wildcat’ is a multi-purpose helicopter for use at sea and on land. The Ministry of Defence has ordered 62 aircraft in all, with 28 destined for the Royal Navy. The first will enter service later this year.
Lancaster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Steve Moorhouse, said: “As a former Fleet Air Arm officer it is fantastic to witness first hand this capable aircraft operate from Lancaster. "
With the visit off the south coast of England on Tuesday, HMS Lancaster became only the second Type 23 frigate to host the new aircraft.
The visit came in the middle of an eight-day trip to the UK by South Korean officers who are seeking to buy a new helicopter to fly from their new FFX class frigates which are , due in service from next year.
Sean McElliott, AgustaWestland Senior Product Marketing Manager, said: “The Republic of Korean Navy already operate Lynx aircraft and therefore the conversion to Wildcat will be relatively easy. I am very confident that we are able to offer them a helicopter that is capable of performing to the high standards expected of us.”
It is not certain that the Republic of Korea’s latest acquisition will be built in the UK, but should Wildcat be chosen an initial order will be built in Yeovil, with the potential for further orders to follow.
HMS Lancaster is the fourth of the Type 23 Frigates. She was launched by Her Majesty the Queen in May 1990 and commissioned two years later. The current HMS Lancaster is the sixth to bear the name.