The AW159, an advanced military maritime helicopter, combined with other technology designed, developed and manufactured by Leonardo in the UK, will help protect the Carrier Strike Group during operations with long-term ally, the United States of America.
Leonardo’s AW159 Wildcat and AW101 Merlin Mk2 helicopters keep watch over the carrier group and the surrounding seas, ensuring the ships and their crews are well protected from enemy submarines, surface ships, aircraft and missiles. The AW101 Merlin Mk4 also provides intra-theatre lift and amphibious air manoeuvre for littoral operations, if required.
These helicopters, which are built by Leonardo in Somerset and help protect the Royal Navy’s 65,000-tonne carriers, will embark on Carrier Strike Group missions with HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH on its maiden operational deployment in 2021.
The Wildcat and Merlin are designed and built to operate in hostile and extreme conditions, providing class-leading defensive and offensive capability at sea, utilising state-of-the-art mission systems for long-range detection such as Leonardo’s radars and Electronic Warfare equipment.
Furthermore, the UK’s carrier strike capability is backed by Leonardo secure communications and thermal imaging sensors for flight approach monitoring and high-fidelity situational awareness.
Leonardo also provides the Sentinel advanced integrated communications system to the Escorts and Support Shipping in the Carrier Task Group. This gives these ships everything from emergency communications, through simple administrative telephony for day-to-day internal operations, to complex secure voice and data transmission, and military radio systems for tactical purposes. The Company also provides high grade secure messaging to over 90% of the Royal Navy fleet. This system enables the ships and submarines in the Carrier Strike Group to communicate securely with NATO and other strategic partners.
To date, Leonardo has supplied more than 800 advanced targeting lasers for the F-35 Lightning II’s Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS). The laser, integrated into the EOTS, allows fighter aircraft crews to perform precision ranging and targeting functions.