AgustaWestland is planning to begin flight trials of its AW159 Wildcat helicopter fitted with a digital automatic flight control system (DAFCS) this month.
The company has leased back the second prototype Wildcat, TI02, from the UK Ministry of Defence and is modifying it with a DAFCS system, according to Matt Boucher, AgustaWestland’s Wildcat program manager.
Trials are expected to take about 18 months, with the DAFCS destined for the eight AW159s ordered by South Korea’s navy in January 2013. The country’s Wildcat Mk.210s will be the first to be equipped with a DAFCS and will be the most advanced version of the Wildcat yet, fitted with a dipping sonar and associated sonics system, as well as a defensive aids suite and electronic countermeasures system developed by Selex ES.
The South Korean aircraft will be equipped to carry a lightweight torpedo and the Rafael Spike NLOS air-to-surface missile. The first pair of Korean aircraft are currently on the production line at AgustaWestland’s facility in Yeovil, Somerset, and should make their first flight in October. Firing trials of the Spike NLOS are due to take place in the UK in 2015, and the first batch of four aircraft are due to be delivered to South Korea by the end of 2015. The last batch of four is expected in 2016.