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  1. ITV Report

Hundreds of aviation jobs saved in Somerset

The Wildcat helicopters of the Black Cat display team, based at RNAS Yeovilton Credit: Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has signed a £271 million deal with Leonardo Helicopters to continue to support Wildcat helicopters, safeguarding hundreds of high-skilled British jobs.

Leonardo's base in Yeovil Credit: ITV News

The overwhelming majority (over 80%) of the 500 or so jobs will be at Leonardo’s facilities in Yeovil and Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, the home of Wildcat training and maintenance in the UK.

A further hundred jobs will be maintained in Leonardo’s supply chain.

A Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter on exercise with HMS Ocean Credit: Ministry of Defence

Wildcat is a highly versatile aircraft, capable of a wide a range of tasks over land and sea.

The Royal Navy’s maritime Wildcat forms the core of the UK’s Frigate and Destroyer aviation capability including protection, transport and reconnaissance while the army version performs similar roles.

This Wildcat deal delivers a key capability for the Royal Navy and Army, and supports vital high-skilled jobs in Somerset, where there’s a proud tradition of supporting UK helicopter operations.

Wildcat is one of the world’s most advanced helicopters and an important part of the Government’s ten-year £178 billion plan to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they deserve.

– Harriet Baldwin, Minister for Defence Procurement

The five-year deal will deliver a range of support and training services for the UK’s entire fleet of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters, currently in service with the Royal Navy and Army Air Corps.

Wildcat operators include 825 and 847 Naval Air Squadron and 652 and 661 Squadron Army Air Corps, all based at RNAS Yeovilton.

A Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter in flight over Glastonbury Tor Credit: Ministry of Defence