Leonardo and New Zealand industry sign MoU for nation's Maritime Helicopter Replacement programme

26 March 2024
  • Leonardo is offering its AW159 Wildcat helicopter to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) as a solution for its maritime helicopter replacement (MHR) programme
  • Leonardo will establish a Wildcat Support Centre (NZ) at the RNZAF base in Auckland in collaboration with local partners, if successful on the MHR programme
  • This collaborative approach with Leonardo represents a cross-section of the best in New Zealand’s engineering, manufacturing and technology sectors

Leonardo is collaborating with New Zealand industry – including the development of Small to Medium Enterprises – through a set of comprehensive Memorandum of Understandings (MoU). The MoU outlines technical and programme support, operations, maintenance and job creation, which will foster a symbiotic relationship as part of Leonardo’s offer for the country’s MHR programme with its latest-generation AW159 multi-role helicopter.

Further to the signings on 20 March, Leonardo was joined by Beca Applied Technologies, Core Aviation, Marops, Redfort Logistics Group and United Machinists. The MoUs are in recognition of the need to build resilience into the NZDF’s operations for the future through the country’s growing industrial capability. Within the anticipated MHR framework, Leonardo is offering the establishment of a Wildcat Support Centre (NZ) for the AW159 helicopters. This would be located within the operating base in Auckland and would be delivered through this collaboration with domestic partners.

Furthermore, the MoU represents an investment in skills, design and manufacturing, sustainment of jobs for local businesses and potential opportunities for veterans, if Leonardo is successful with the MHR programme. In addition to these areas, it will ensure the enhancement of science and technology through maintenance support, simulation and training, across the country. This will, in turn, help put the New Zealand aerospace industry on the map in providing support to its defence forces and enriching its industrial capability.

Adam Clarke, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, commented: “The MoUs with local industry in New Zealand highlight Leonardo’s commitment to supporting the country’s aviation industry. This collaboration will help foster the long-term growth and sustainability of jobs through domestic companies that provide services, maintenance and technology capabilities for the New Zealand Defence Force with our AW159 Wildcat helicopter.”

The AW159 Wildcat has been proven in service with Navies around the world to be capable of meeting and exceeding the demanding environmental and performance requirements of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The twin-engine multi-role AW159 is able to conduct missions ranging from constabulary to high-end warfighting where it has the capability to autonomously detect, identify and attack targets on land and at sea, including submarine threats. The high-performance platform has state-of-the-art systems, including a Leonardo Seaspray multi-mode electronically-scanning (E-scan) radar, and integrated electronic warfare Defensive Aids Suite, and is fully network-enabled.

Editor’s Notes

About Beca: Beca is one of Asia Pacific’s largest independent advisory, design and engineering consultancies. After a century of operation, it has grown from a family-owned business to one of the most progressive, client-centric professional services consultancies in our region. With over 4,000 employees in 25 offices around the world, it supports a wide range of clients, including the provision of aviation consulting, simulator and engineering services to the New Zealand Defence Force.

About Core Aviation: Core Aviation is an Auckland-based aviation company. Core Aviation and its subsidiaries are 100% New Zealand owned and operated. The company comprises of Airlift New Zealand, Airlift Engineering, Orbit Helicopters and North Shore Helicopter Training. Incorporated in 2019, Core Aviation now engages 23 full- and part-time staff and contractors. This is currently made up of 7 pilots, 10 engineers and 6 support/management staff. Core Aviation has engineering, avionics and operational capability across fixed wing and helicopters from small to medium planes and helicopters to larger turboprop and jet aircraft. Airlift is also actively engaged in future eVTOL capabilities.

About Marops: Marops is a trusted Defence Partner specialising in developing innovative solutions and training resources for aeronautical, marine, utilities, infrastructure, e-learning applications. Marops is based in Auckland and is 100% NZ owned and operated.

About Redfort Logistics Group: Based in New Zealand, at the bottom of the world and surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Redfort Logistics Group are experts at moving assets over long distances. This is strengthened through its extensive global network. It has learned that successful helicopter, aviation and freight logistics require specialised skills, industry experience and innovative thinking. By sea, air and land.

About United Machinists: United Machinist’s ISO: 9001 Accredited CNC machine shop provides precision machined components for aerospace, electronics, automotive, medical and marine applications. For mission-critical components, exceptional quality is simply permission to play. What sets the company apart is its business innovation. United Machinists' second-generation owner operators, Alex and Sarah Ramsay, are on a mission to create the ‘Machine shop of the Future’.