Leonardo showcases AW159 Wildcat as replacement for NZ maritime helicopter

3 min read

Leonardo is taking part in Wings Over Wairarapa, a major air festival event in New Zealand, and will exhibit technologies, products and systems for aerospace, defence, and security markets from November 24 to 26, 2023. A feature on display is the AW159 Wildcat helicopter.

This major air festival, taking place at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton from Nov. 24 to 26, 2023, promises not only a visual feast for aviation buffs, but also a commitment to inspiring the next generation of New Zealand engineers.

STEM Activities for All Ages


Leonardo goes beyond the traditional exhibition by integrating the very best in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities. The aim is clear – engage with local schools, young minds, and families attending the event.

The company seeks to inspire a passion for engineering careers by showcasing how STEM subjects provide crucial life skills transferable to manufacturing or engineering professions.

Visitors to Leonardo’s stand will be able to actively participate in fun aerospace activities. These activities not only highlight the excitement of the aerospace industry but also emphasize the importance of communication skills, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities.

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AW159 Wildcat – A Maritime Helicopter Solution


At the heart of the Leonardo showcase is the AW159 Wildcat, a model offered to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) for its maritime helicopter replacement program.

Proven in service with Navies globally, the AW159 stands out for its ability to exceed demanding environmental and performance requirements, making it an ideal fit for the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

Designed for single-spot combatant operations in challenging maritime environments, the AW159 is a versatile platform capable of undertaking a full range of aviation missions.

Known as the Wildcat in the British Armed Forces, it proves to be an operationally capable and cost-effective multi-role platform, surpassing the limits of other embarked aircraft.

Leonardo emphasizes the longstanding collaboration between the Royal Navy and RNZN, fostering knowledge-sharing and interoperability.

Operating the AW159 opens doors to greater naval synergy, enhancing existing ties and broadening opportunities for mutual support. The platform’s minimal impact on wider ship operations ensures maximum capability with efficiency.

Local Support Solutions for NZDF


Understanding the need for future operational resilience, Leonardo offers a New Zealand-based support solution for the AW159 helicopters.

Collaborating with key domestic suppliers like Beca and United Machinists, the company ensures a robust support network.

Beca, a leading advisory and engineering consultancy, and United Machinists, an ISO:9001 Accredited CNC machine shop, play vital roles in this endeavor.

Acknowledging the Role of Engineering


Aaron Lewis, campaign director at Leonardo Helicopters, expresses the company’s commitment to showcasing the vital role of New Zealand’s engineering sector on the global stage.

By closely working with industry and local schools, Leonardo aims to demonstrate how science, maths, or even English studies can seamlessly transition into a rewarding engineering career.

Brian Fearnley, business director major programmes at Beca, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the value of local involvement in complex technical projects.

As a New Zealand-owned company, Beca is proud to partner with Leonardo in providing AW159 Wildcat training systems and program support.

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