Wildcat assembly to be relocated from Yeovil to Italy

Italian company Leonardo Helicopters subcontracts out the assembly of the Lynx Wildcat helicopters for the Royal Navy to GKN which carries out the work at their facility in Yeovil, Somerset adjacent to RNAS Yeovilton. However, staff at the site have been told that as many as 230 jobs could be lost due to Leonardo deciding to relocate assembly to Italy.

A Leonardo spokesman was quoted in Manufacturing and Engineering Magazine (MEM) as saying that the primary reason for them relocating the work to Italy was due to “changes in their demand” making the current arrangement “no longer sustainable”. However, MEM have quoted sources claiming that Leonardo’s decision is politically motivated as opposed to reflecting a change in demand.

The Lynx Wildcat is the latest development of the earlier Westland Lynx and will become one of the most significant rotary-wing types in service with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm over the coming decade. The engines are considerably more powerful than the previous generation Lynx HMA.8’s Gem 42-200 powerplants providing significantly improved performance when operating in hot and high conditions. The aircraft’s flight and weapon systems are also significantly improved.

Union representatives are demanding greater government action to protect GKN employees and other defence industry jobs from going overseas particularly in the wake of the Brexit vote which some claim has left the UK in a state of industrial limbo which has dissuaded investment.





Westland Lynx HMA.8 & Westland Sea King ASaC.7 at RNAS Culdrose Air Day 2016

A selection of images of a Lynx HMA.8 and Sea King ASaC.7 in the static display during a misty RNAS Culdrose Air Day 2016.

All photographs kindly contributed by Dave Taskis (please take time to visit his blog by clicking here).

Lynx HMA.8 ZF562/404 appears to be having something of an identity crisis. It is wearing Iron Duck nose art of HMS Iron Duke but has HMS Monmouth titles painted on the radar fairing.

Sea King ASaC.7 ZE422/192 of 849 NAS perfectly camouflaged against the misty backdrop in the static display at RNAS Cudrose. The Sea King ASaC.7 – known throughout the Navy as Baggers – are the ‘eyes in the sky’ of the Royal Navy, searching for aerial threats to the Fleet with its powerful radar or suspicious movements on the ground in support of land forces. They are the among the last examples of the ubiquitous Sea King in British service.

For more images of British military equipment and museums please visit the Galleries section or follow Defence of the Realm on Instagram

If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website/blog/social media account.

RAF Griffin helicopter destroyed on Snowdonia hillside

Griffin HT.1 Royal Air Force helicopter AB412

Griffin HT.1 (RAF)

An RAF Griffin HT.1 helicopter has burst into flames after being forced to land on a Snowdonia peak with technical problems. The aircraft was operating out of RAF Valley and was carrying five crewmembers none of whom were hurt in the incident.

The emergency services were alerted to the scene by walkers who had spotted the smoke and flames sending firefighters, police and mountain rescue teams from Llanberis, Ogwen Valley and Aberglaslyn to the scene. An air ambulance and HM Coast Guard helicopter were dispatched to the scene as a precautionary measure while the air space above the scene was restricted to other aircraft.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the aircraft was involved in a search and rescue training exercise at the time of the incident. The Griffin HT.1s based at Valley are part of the Search and Rescue Training Unit (SARTU).


The aircraft on fire in Snowdonia (BBC)

Army Air Corps Gazelles to soldier on through 50 years of service

Aerospatiale Westland Gazelle AH1 Helicopter British Army Air Corps

The Army Air Corps’ venerable Gazelle AH.1 is to be the subject of a life extension program that will see its out-of-service date pushed back from 2018 to 2025 which in doing so means the aircraft will have seen 50 years of service with the British armed forces. According to IHS Janes, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that they will be publishing details of a competition for a contract to support the aircraft until the new planned out-of-service date.

The winning bidder will have their contract come in to effect in 2018 when the current contracts with Cobham Aviation Services, Airbus Helicopters, Safran helicopters and Leonardo Helicopters finish. The winning bidder will likely have to encompass as much of the work carried out by these companies as possible in an effort to streamline the support infrastructure for the ageing aircraft.

The Gazelle can trace its roots back to the Aérospatiale Alouette III light helicopter, one of the most successful helicopter designs of all time. The Gazelle was intended as its replacement and the British Army became interested in it as a replacement for the American-built Sioux helicopters in the observation and light utility roles. British Gazelles were produced by Westland helicopters and they went on to serve in a variety of roles not just with the Army but with the RAF, Royal Navy and Royal Marines as well although only the Army continues to fly it. The aircraft first entered Army service in 1974.

Since no replacement for the type has yet been suggested it is likely that when these aircraft do finally bow-out gracefully they will be replaced in their observation role by UAVs. At present there are still restrictions on UAVs flying in UK airspace but these are expected to be lifted or relaxed in the coming years allowing the Army more freedom to fly drones in UK airspace.

Westland Wasp & Scout at the Helicopter Museum

History: The Helicopter Museum
Photos: Tony Wilkins

Westland Wasp HAS Mk.1, XT443, C/n. F.9613.

The 60th example to be built for the Royal Navy in 1966 as a ship based anti-submarine warfare helicopter powered by a Bristol Siddley Nimbus Mk.503 turboshaft engine. It first flew at Yeovil on 29th March 1966 and was delivered to RNAY Fleetlands, and later to No.829 Squadron, Portland, Dorset. In 1979 it went to RNAY Wroughton, for storage and then a overhaul, which was completed 1981 and delivered to No.829 Squadron as HMS Aurora ships flight. Declared redundant in 1993 it was transferred to Westland’s for storage and later donated to the Helicopter Museum, with delivery taking place in January 1995. This aircraft was returned to the main collection in November 2002 after under going a major 5 years restoration by the museum volunteers.

Westland Scout AH Mk.1, XP165, C/n. S2/8437.

Designed originally by Saunders-Roe at Cowes, Isle of Wight, the museum aircraft is generally regarded as the first true Scout prototype. Built in 1960 at Eastleigh, Hampshire as a 5 seat utility and armed attack helicopter powdered by a Blackburn Nimbus Mk.101 turboshaft engine. First flown in August 1960, XP165 was initially allocated for manufacturer trials and in 1963 it was delivered to Yeovil and remained there as a trial installation aircraft until 1964 when it was returned to White Waltham for refurbishing and delivery to the ETPS at RAE Farnborough in 1964. In 1983 XP165 was transferred to the museum collection, and after extensive restoration work by the museum is now fully restored into it’s ETPS colours.

Hind, Hound, Hip & Hare – Russian Aircraft at the Helicopter Museum

A collection of the Russian/Soviet aircraft on display at the Helicopter Museum in Weston-Super-Mare, UK.
History: The Helicopter Museum
Photos: Tony Wilkins

Mil Mi-24D “Hind”, 96+26/421, C/N. 230270110073.

Built in 1981 as a ground attack/assault helicopter and powered by two Klimov TV-3-117 turboshaft engines. The Hind in the Museum collection is a Mi-24D variant, some 350 of which were built at factories in Arsenyev and Rostov-on-Don. Armament includes a 12.7 mm four barrel 9-A 624 machine gun, four Falanga anti-tank missiles and 80 rockets in four under wing pods. First flown on 2nd April 1981 it was delivered to the East German Army based at Basephol, North of Berlin. In early 1992 it was decided to disband the Hind squadrons and its last flight was on 24th February 1992. The German Government allocated it to the Helicopter Museum and a team went to Basephol in early 1995 to dismantle and transport it to the United Kingdom. It was delivered to the Museum on 20th February 1995 with assistance from Bristow Helicopters.

Mil Mi-8PS,10618.

First flown in the early 1960s as Russia’s first turbine-engined medium transport helicopter and with a large open cabin with rear ramp access, more than 11,000 Mi-8 variants have been built to date. The Museum’s example is a rare Mi-8PS, initially delivered to the Polish Air Force in the 1970s for service in a VIP configuration. Externally identifiable by the square, rather than round, cabin windows the PS variant was built in limited numbers for heads of state and similar high-ranking VIPs but modified for a military Command and Control role and allocated to 37PST assault regiment at Leznica Wielka near Lodz. Retired in 2005 this is the first Russian Mil Mi-8 transport helicopter to go on display in the UK and the 18m (60ft) long aircraft arrived at the Museum by road on 5th February 2010.

Mil Mi-4 “Hound”, 9147, C/N. 09147.

The Mil Mi-4 assault transport was the product of an October 1951 ultimatum by Stalin for the design and construction of a transport helicopter within 12 months. Powered by one Shvetsov ASh-82V 14-cylinder two row radial piston engine. More than 3000 Mi-4s were built for military service with the Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces and for civil operations with Aeroflot over the following 15 years. The Mi-4 acquired by the Museum was probably built in the fifties and was last in service with the Czechoslovak Air Force. It was purchased by the Museum in 1992 and delivered by road in major sections during the first half of 1993. Reassembly and restoration began in 1995 and was finished in late 1996, but some missing parts are still required, especially in the cockpit area, to complete the restoration.

Mil Mi-1 “Hare”, 2007, C/N. 5112007.

The Mi-1 was designed by Mikhail Mil in 1945 to meet a Soviet requirement for a two/three seat helicopter and is powered by one Ivchenko AI-26V 7-cylinder radial piston engine. The Museum example is a Polish built SM-1 variant, completed by PZL-Swidnik, Poland in February 1959 and delivered to the Polish Air Force. Used primarily for pilot training from 1962 until the late 1980s, the aircraft was then grounded and used for ground instruction. The final log book entry is dated 29th November 1990. Purchased by the Museum in 1992 it was delivered by road in 1993. It is restored in Soviet markings as an example of the first Russian production helicopter.


I couldn’t be more of an anorak if I tried – Tony Wilkins