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The Real life version of a Star Trek Shuttlecraft ? I wonder if they get named by the crew too lol


yep… they do.
HMS Brazens aircraft was known as Hussy.
A Gulf Mod lynx i remember was called Sonic ( The Hedgehog)….Wafu’s …go figure


Our helicopter fleets have to be one of the most unrecognised assets we have. Fast jet, escort, and submarine numbers are regular topics of conversation, yet the number of helicopters, the primary offensive weapon system for all of our surface ships, has continued to plummet with little recognition.

Given the choice, are we better trying to expand the surface fleet with T31, or spending any funding increase on restoring helicopter numbers? Two or three dozen more Wildcats would alleviate a lot of the pressure on the force, and maybe let more ships deploy with the two helicopters as intended.


My goodness Callum,I think you might have seen the light!


Yes but not more Wildcats with their lack of ASW detection and data link and their short endurance.


Another interesting article, though a shame to read that there may well be another bribery scandle concerning Leonardo in the wind.

Harry Bulpit

is it possible to create a drop in and out dipping sonar modal for the wildcat?

Harry Bulpit

Brilliant. Would be good to get some.


Too small,far too expensive.The RN has large hangers and flightdecks ,so dosnt need small helicopters apart from drones perhaps .The reason why the project went ahead was to avoid a demarcation dispute between the army air corps and the RAF.The money could have been more effectively spent subsidising Leonardo by doing almost anything else.Another tale in the endless MOD saga of waste and industrial suicide.


If we still had up votes I’d send you one!

Bloke down the pub

A potentially cheaper alternative.


Good article, thanks.
I know there’s a lot of debate about which aircraft etc. etc. and I appreciate it’s important. I don’t know enough about the different options to venture an opinion. What I would say though, is that whichever aircraft was chosen it should have had data links! To me that is the most outrageous aspect of the whole thing. In these modern times (even when the decision was taken in 2008) data is everything, and it should not be considered an optional extra that can be cut to reduce costs. I would far rather not have a dipping sonar for Wildcat and have a data link that allows it to go hunting alongside Merlin and T23/26/31/45, or potentially even USN or other allied assets.
Same goes for CEC for the T45. I just do not understand how these things can’t be thought of as critical these days…

John Wood

As someone who was involved with CEC from the very beginning it breaks
my heart to see that the Royal Navy simply does not understand or wish to embrace network centric warfare. It is a critical repeat critical component in assembling total situational awareness. The carriers and the type 45 could have been properly integrated at minimal cost. Now, wedded to the F 35B and without any form of (Effective) Airborne early morning available or in process I simply fail to see how these enormously expensive vessels can Really be regarded as an operational asset.
Please do not mention “crows nest”, I did say “effective airborne early warning”. As was mentioned, You can Skype your grandma across the continent with a simple iPhone, the wildcat cannot even relay visual data to each parent ship in real time.,


I remember Tony Blair giving a Parliamentary answer that the justification in going from 8 to 6 Type 45’s wasvthe additional capability they would have from CEC. A few months later they cancelled CEC. It was during the time that the RN was being decimated because we were fighting two major regional conflicts on a peacetime defence budget.

Last edited 3 years ago by Sunmack

Good grief, you seem to think that the purpose of buying equipment like Wildcat is to provide capability to our armed forces. Its primary purpose is actually to create jobs and if a piece of kit is more expensive and less capable but is built in the UK then that’s what politicians will want the MOD to buy

Captain Nemo

I wonder what made them choose Sea Venom rather than just copy and paste Brimstone 2? Granted Sea Venom has advantages including a large warhead, but Brimstone 2 has double the range and is fielded by us in numbers. That would give a natural progression to spear 3 which gets mentioned for possible saturation attacks against maritime targets whenever the lack of an internal ASM for F35b is brought up.
Similarly Martlet when there are off the shelf options such as the APKWS in use with the USMC.

Dave G

Would be an interesting study to see. Given brimstone afaik is intended for compact targets like armoured land vehicles and has a warhead designed for penetrating armour it may not be suitable for a larger but lighter armoured target such as a corvette (part of the target set according to wiki) where a bigger hole may be more effective. It also has to be considered as part of the overall mix given wildcat has a reasonable number of lighter missile for smaller targets.

According to wiki, apkws is only 5km max range and 5s to travel 1km. Martlet is 8km range and much faster.

Captain Nemo

I’m just curious how the business case for these projects is made, it’ll be interesting to see some unit costs one day.
There was some development work for a naval Brimstone for use against swarm attacks and I think the selling point against larger boats was that it could target critical areas with some software work.
I can kind of see the stock of Sea Venom just sitting, Sea Skua was only used in 1982 and 1991, that of course that can be said about a lot of systems and that we’ve not had to use them is good, but it would be unfortunate if the RAF or army found themselves short and the navy couldn’t help out.

Regards, Nemo


I think the business case goes:
1) Does it create or sustain jobs in the Uk*
2) Do we need it?
3) Can we procure sufficient numbers with the required capability?

* If the answer to 1 is yes then questions 2 and 3 may be disregarded


Has any thought gone in to developing an external sonar pod for the wildcat? with a linking wire to the cockpit? Especially as it now has a weapons wing the pod could also house sonobuoys? Surely wouldn’t be that heavy? and still allow stingrays and cabin space. I can’t imagine it would be that expensive as it would just be like a drop tank with the equipment in. Or would it be too difficult space wise?


A great shame the Wildcat did not get the 12 inch longer cabin of the Lynx 3 prototype.

Simon m

Marte ER and potentially sea venom should procured/fitted to merlin. As an intermediary weapon potentially brimstone should also be fitted to wildcat. I think some thought should be put into asw pods for the wildcat therefore saving cabin space and potentially only fitted when operationally required I can’t see why a dipping sonar could not be fitted in a pod and potentially the electronic equipment in another with the weapons wing this should still allow 2 stingrays


100% agree

Simon m

The AH1 needs an upgrade especially to be survivable on the battlefield in a peer to peer conflict. Would like to see a second so turret flanked by 2 osprey radars on the roof if possible. Adding the same radar as the naval version would still require the type to break cover, leaving vulnerable to SAMs. Lynx AH7 had roof mounted sights for this reason.

If money allowed 2 more osprey radars at the back would give 360 coverage. The ability for drop tanks on both types would also be good especially if integrated with weapons wing.


Very interesting article but I reckon the magic number for how many of these helicopters the British forces needs is 84 at the least or 128 at the most……62 or 70 are child’s play numbers britain used to be a feared and respected force what happened???? to put things into perspective 64 attack helicopters is a great number for protecting Britain BUT if war breaks out while those 64 stay at home protecting the home land are only 6 others supposed to leave for war abroad?????? 20 should be going to war abroad not 6.


“Each airframe has a 2,000 hr fatigue life”

Is it not 12,000hr?


So we ended up with 18 helicopters instead of 30 which still cost far more than planned.With no data link their real time intelligence gathering effectiveness is severely constrained and they are a less effective ASW platform than the helicopter they replaced which could carry sonarbouys when Wildcat can’t.

As usual, the primary consideration was not the number of platforms needed or the capability they require but was the preservation of jobs (in this case at Westland). I’ve no problem with buying British to preserve jobs but when that leads to a higher unit cost, then that should be met with a cost transfer to the defence budget from the trade and industry budget as opposed to the currently practice of cutting numbers and deleting capabilities.


Why is the Wildcat preferred over the Merlin for deployments in the Gulf?

Also, while I know it’s all most secret, so we’ll likely never know for sure, but I doubt the Sting Ray is better than the American mk.50, or the MU90 (or probably even the mk.54).


No real submarine threat to speak of, but lots of surface threats I imagine is the answer…


Sting Ray MOD 1 is hands down better than all of the above. Especially the 1960s designed propulsion system and warhead from the Mk46 used on the Mk54 . Trials and performance of the Mk50 were not great and itb still has issues. Worked with an MU90 operator and they also questioned its performance compared to SR although they said it was better than the Mk54. They had Mk54 for their Sea Hawk and MU90 for their STWS tubes. No logistical nightmare there then!