Locked and loaded: HMS Prince of Wales arrives in UK – protected by attack helicopters

And the managing director of Leonardo UK, which has designed and manufactured both aircraft, has said they serve as a reminder of the best in British ingenuity. Members of the public are being offered the chance to visit the huge ship on Saturday and Sunday, when they can see for themselves the high-tech kit manufactured in this country by Leonardo – notably the AW159 Wildcat and AW101 Merlin helicopters, which offer vital protection when the vessels is at sea. Mr Bone said: “One of the things that makes us proud to come to work at Leonardo is that we’re supporting our Armed Forces by providing them with world-beating technology.

“On board the carrier our secure naval comms are keeping the crew connected throughout the ship and in-touch with their colleagues throughout the rest of the Royal Navy fleet, which we provide 90 percent of the communications for.

“The Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s Tide-class tankers, which support the carriers, are also equipped with Leonardo comms tech, all made in Britain.

He added: “We’re also the UK’s only on-shore manufacturer of military helicopters.

He added: “We’re also the UK’s only on-shore manufacturer of military helicopters.

“Both of the aircraft we designed and are building in Yeovil, Somerset, are on the HMS Prince of Wales.

“Our AW159, also known as the Wildcat, protects the carriers from surface threats, while our AW101 ‘Merlin’ helicopters can seek out and target enemy submarines.”

The Wildcats were equipped with radars built at Leonardo’s site in Edinburgh, which is also producing equipment for the US Navy.

Mr Bone said: “Having the Royal Navy and the British Army fly our helicopters is also great for our export prospects as here in the UK we have one of the most professional, sophisticated and capable Armed Forces in the world.

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“That means that when the UK buys your equipment it’s an enormously important vote of confidence in British technology and it supports us selling equipment to allies around the world.”

Leonardo, which employs about 7,000 across its UK sites, also supplies the HMS Prince of Wales with a communications network connecting crew members stationed throughout the 65,000-tonne warship.

It also provides secure messaging for roughly 90 percent of the Royal Navy’s ships and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s Tide-class tankers, from its factory in Basildon in Essex.

Leonardo is also is one of the four British companies working on the UK’s next generation Tempest combat jet and its Northern-most factory in Edinburgh is developing the new radar for the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon aircraft.

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The project to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales cost more than £6billion.

HMS Prince of Wales began sea trials in September 2019 and arrived HMNB Portsmouth in November 2019.

A month later, the ship was formally commissioned into the Royal Navy at a ceremony held at the base.

The ship will be will be fully ready for front-line duties by 2023.

The visit by HMS Prince of Wales offers the first opportunity for many members of the public to see Leonardo’s cutting-edge technology face-to-face.

Commander Gareth Mawdsley, 41 from Liverpool, the Commander of Logistics on board, said: “Having grown up in Liverpool it is always special to be able to sail back along the Mersey, and I have been lucky enough to do so in several ships before.

“But being able to bring the largest ship in the Royal Navy fleet into my home port is fantastic.

“The city is always welcoming to visitors, and mariners in particular, so I am delighted we have the opportunity to return the hospitality by welcoming people on board during our stay.

“This aircraft carrier, like her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, is vital to the work we do in the Royal Navy to help keep Britain safe.

“I would encourage everyone to come and take a look at us while we are here.”

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