UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

Contains threads on Royal Air Force equipment of the past, present and future.
Lord Jim
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

Post by Lord Jim »

Form the video it might look the simplest in form but its avionics and sensors are next generation to say the least, and remember the issues the F-35 has in those areas.

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Without any header text I would have taken them for Comanches
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

SW1
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news ... elicopters

France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom announced the launch of a multinational project on Next Generation Rotorcraft Capabilities on 19 November 2020.

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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SW1 wrote:France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom
Great, what will the marriage of Merlin and NH90 produce as offspring
- ASW is mentioned, but littoral and N. Atlantic in the winter are slightly different ball games
+ will Puma last out to 2035?
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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shark bait
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Unexpected and welcome news, we need some alternative to american helicopters.
@LandSharkUK

SW1
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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ArmChairCivvy wrote:
SW1 wrote:France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom
Great, what will the marriage of Merlin and NH90 produce as offspring
- ASW is mentioned, but littoral and N. Atlantic in the winter are slightly different ball games
+ will Puma last out to 2035?
Something like racer perhaps

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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

Post by Timmymagic »

ArmChairCivvy wrote:+ will Puma last out to 2035?
It won't last till then, but crucially Yeovilton won't last until then without an order. They don't have a huge lot on their plate at present. The below (paywalled) article asks for AW149 to be built to replace Puma, which is a great idea. Mind you I always thought we should have gone for AW139M or AW149 in place of Wildcat...
shark bait wrote:Unexpected and welcome news, we need some alternative to american helicopters.
Hopefully Yeovil will still be around by then...

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/20 ... -uk-order/

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Tempest414
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Maybe the answer is the RAF get 10 more Chinook to replace Puma and the Army get 40 AW139M to replace Wildcat there wildcats go to the Navy and this new program comes in at the end of the AW139M contract to replace Merlin this should keep Yeovil going for some 20 years with AW139M new build and wildcat upgrades

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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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I think Leonardo have said previously they do not want another aw139 final assembly line in the Europe region.

The concern with another stop gap is yet another mis mash without any thought to a family procurement decision that streamlines logistical and training requirements that covers roles from initial training thru to operational. This is what has proved successful with Leonardo customers able to leverage aw169, 139 and 189 aircraft.

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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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SW1 wrote:France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom announced the launch of a multinational project on Next Generation Rotorcraft Capabilities on 19 November 2020.
And Germany orders 31 NH90 Sea Tigers for its Navy on the 20th.

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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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The Telegraph article mentioned by Timmy:
Helicopter jobs fears as Leonardo lobbies for UK order

Leonardo highlights economic returns of buying from its Yeovil factory as it faces thinning order book
By Alan Tovey, Industry Editor 15 November 2020 • 3:00pm

The long-term future of thousands of jobs building helicopters at Leonardo’s factory in Somerset hinges on the UK replacing its ageing fleet of medium helicopters, according to the defence company.

Leonardo, the UK division of the Italian defence company, is pushing its AW149 helicopter as a replacement for helicopters such as the Puma, which first entered service with the UK in almost 50 years ago.

The company’s helicopter plant in Yeovil, which has 2,750 employees and 500 subcontracted staff, will have to start reducing its production line in 2022 unless it lands new orders.

The Ministry of Defence has not set out a requirement for replacement helicopters but Leonardo is positioning itself in anticipation of a 20-plus aircraft order, thought to be worth £400m, by highlighting the economic returns of buying a UK-made product.

A report by Oxford Economics calculates that each £1 the Government spends with the company, which also produces radar for Typhoon fighters and anti-missile defence systems, generates £2.40 of economic activity.

Norman Bone, managing director of Leonardo UK, said: “Infrastructure projects have been shown to kickstart economies after events like Covid-19 and this order would be an infrastructure order, supporting thousands of direct jobs and many more in the supply chain.”
Show more

He added that an order for the AW149 would not only protect manufacturing jobs, but also generate UK intellectual property from research and design work modifying the helicopter to British military specifications.

Britain buying the helicopter could also open up an international export market for Yeovil-built AW149s, according to Mr Bone.

"The UK buying it would create a reference customer for other countries, as British military service is seen as an endorsement. “We conservatively estimate the global market for the AW149 to be 500 aircraft,” he said.

Helicopters produced by Leonardo in the UK are already in service with the British military. One recent high-profile operation was the storming by the SBS of the Nave Andromeda off the south coast.

The ship’s deck was swept for hijackers from a distance by an AW159 Wildcat, then two AW101 Merlins lander troops on the vessel.

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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Timmymagic wrote:Mind you I always thought we should have gone for AW139M or AW149 in place of Wildcat...
Good god no.

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Tempest414
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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SW1 wrote:I think Leonardo have said previously they do not want another aw139 final assembly line in the Europe region.

The concern with another stop gap is yet another mis mash without any thought to a family procurement decision that streamlines logistical and training requirements that covers roles from initial training thru to operational. This is what has proved successful with Leonardo customers able to leverage aw169, 139 and 189 aircraft.
Maybe but there are limited options for Yeovil Merlin what else as for the RAF they have some options if they want to replace Puma

1 don't
2 Chinooks
3 lease UH-60 from the US as a stop gap

Lord Jim
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

Post by Lord Jim »

Or buy say twelve more Merlin HC4s to expand the fleet and expand their role to support 16 Brigade as well as the Marines.

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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Tempest414 wrote:
SW1 wrote:I think Leonardo have said previously they do not want another aw139 final assembly line in the Europe region.

The concern with another stop gap is yet another mis mash without any thought to a family procurement decision that streamlines logistical and training requirements that covers roles from initial training thru to operational. This is what has proved successful with Leonardo customers able to leverage aw169, 139 and 189 aircraft.
Maybe but there are limited options for Yeovil Merlin what else as for the RAF they have some options if they want to replace Puma

1 don't
2 Chinooks
3 lease UH-60 from the US as a stop gap
I think if your looking at Yeovil either the aw169m or 149 both of which have component manufacture at Yeovil and there has been expressions of desire for final assembly. The point is probably more that I don’t think we should see it as a stop gap it needs to be seen as the the first step in a multi fleet renewal across the board with a common architecture through out. But it maybe option 1. You could move wildcat all to the navy and look at an army only helicopter, with the raf only operating chinook.

But it needs to be set against a very changing dynamic about the relationship between the ground forces and helicopters, vehicle protection weights have and are removing great swaths of moveable equipment and the rumoured reduction in light infantry adds to this further. Is it small squad being delivered further, more use in urban roles, if it’s movement of logistics is it manned helicopters at all.

Lord Jim
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Ideally I would not replace the Pumas as such but provide the AAC with around 24 platforms able to carry at least eight fully equipped troops and assign them directly to 16 Brigade, giving them a much needed integral air mobility capability. Of course if they could carry a couple of RPs or such like at the same time and/or had full all weather and night operations capability as well all the better.

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Tempest414
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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To my thinking this what I would like as said buy 8-to 10 Chinooks for the RAF. Then have Yeovil build 50 new Helicopters for the AAC giving them a force of 100 = 50 Apache and 50 AW169m and then get our heads down to this new program that will need to replace say 70 Merlin in the

as a side note I would like to say 20 the the ACC troop carrying AW1XX able to operate from the carriers

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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Tempest414 wrote:To my thinking this what I would like as said buy 8-to 10 Chinooks for the RAF. Then have Yeovil build 50 new Helicopters for the AAC giving them a force of 100 = 50 Apache and 50 AW169m and then get our heads down to this new program that will need to replace say 70 Merlin in the

as a side note I would like to say 20 the the ACC troop carrying AW1XX able to operate from the carriers
It’s not a bad idea however I don’t see the chinook force getting bigger think it will be replacements for older machines. However I don’t know why but I have a feeling they may buy an airbus helicopters model going fwd.

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Jensy
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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SW1 wrote: I think if your looking at Yeovil either the aw169m or 149 both of which have component manufacture at Yeovil and there has been expressions of desire for final assembly. The point is probably more that I don’t think we should see it as a stop gap it needs to be seen as the the first step in a multi fleet renewal across the board with a common architecture through out. But it maybe option 1. You could move wildcat all to the navy and look at an army only helicopter, with the raf only operating chinook.
Both excellent platforms, with the AW149 having what I'd argue is the advantage of not serving with the Italian armed forces. As such a Yeovil production line is highly likely (indeed has been offered in the past) were we to order a sufficient fleet to make the infrastructure worth while.

I was reading up on the doomed Westand 30 the other day. Such a pretty but useless aircraft! I've always seen quite a similarity between its design and the AW149, though, more successful and a third of a century newer.

In addition to the c.24 Pumas that need replacing, there are also rapidly ageing fleets of:

- 3 Bell 212 (Cyprus)
- 5 Bell Giffin (Brunei and Kenya)
- 18-26 Westland Gazelles (that have escaped the axe)

If there was funding there, I'd look to replace all the medium weight RAF/AAC helos, plus the AAC Wildcats in their BUH role with the AW149, for a total of about 60 split between RAF and Armt roles, but operated as "Joint Force Ocelot" (or whatever the AW149 might be known by.)

I would then shift about 20 of the AAC Wildcats to replace the Gazelles as a lightweight observation/utility helo and the remainder would be given to the FAA (either unmodified to fill in the more mundane tasks or upgraded to the South Korean ASW spec if possible).

In doing so, we remove three unique and ageing fleets from service/training/MRO and purchase sufficient AW149s to keep Yoevil running for a decade, and that's before exports.

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Jensy wrote:In addition to the c.24 Pumas that need replacing, there are also rapidly ageing fleets of:

- 3 Bell 212 (Cyprus)
- 5 Bell Giffin (Brunei and Kenya)
- 18-26 Westland Gazelles (that have escaped the axe)
With the 2035(+) horizon the Pumas are a headache (and they are truly a medium helicopter, too)
-whereas the Bell 212s and Griffins I think are leased and support is contracted out, too
- and as for the Gazelles you already had a solution in mind
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Jensy
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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ArmChairCivvy wrote: With the 2035(+) horizon the Pumas are a headache (and they are truly a medium helicopter, too)
-whereas the Bell 212s and Griffins I think are leased and support is contracted out, too
- and as for the Gazelles you already had a solution in mind
You're quite correct, the Cyprus flight is managed/owned by Cobham (was some excellent footage of them operating with the experimental task force and Albion this week). With the increased tensions in the Eastern Med it would be a pity not to retain some rotor craft there in long term.

I didn't think the Giffins were leased? Though I was also convinced we still had some permanently deployed to Belize (but can't find anything since the Pumas were removed in the 90s)...

Either way, as you say the Pumas and their impending OSD is the main concern, with the future of Yeovil hanging in the balance.

On a largely unrelated note, news about the AW609 and the proposed Next-Gen Tiltrotor seems to have gone very quiet recently.

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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Jensy wrote: With the increased tensions in the Eastern Med it would be a pity not to retain some rotor craft there in long term.
With the Sovereign Areas commanding their own shorelines, we are obligated to have SAR
- and with the frequency of forest fires in the Med these days, they come in handy also on that account

The Griffins are in two places:
" The contractor-owned Bell 412EP is known as the Griffin HT.1 and is used by an RAF shadow unit at the Defence Helicopter Flying School for advanced, multi-engined rotary wing training.
Modified 412EP Griffin HAR.2 used for contract SAR duty in Cyprus. They have a variable speed winch and an additional array of radios for maritime uses, together with mods for overwater operations. "

Whereas the other Bells were chosen along the criteria that other folks (oilmen) in the area use the same type and hence contracting out maintenance is feasible.
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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https://www.flightglobal.com/helicopter ... 48.article

The UK is unlikely to replace its fleet of Airbus Helicopters Puma HC2s with a high-speed platform from the USA’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme due to timing issues, but nonetheless continues to assess that effort – and a separate NATO-led initiative – against its longer-term requirements.

While the UK believes that “there is a requirement for a medium aircraft in the future”, the 23 Pumas operated by the Royal Air Force are due for retirement by 2025, says Colonel Paul Morris, assistant head of plans, capability air manouevre for the British Army.

The picture is further complicated by a requirement to replace the Royal Navy’s Leonardo Helicopters Merlin HM2s and HC4s in 2029-2030.

Lieutenant Commander Andrew White, who serves as secretary to that effort, as well as holding a post in the UK’s capability air manoeuvre body, told the conference that any interim Puma replacement would be expected to have a service life of around 20 years.

On that basis “the UK would be looking again around 2045”. If the service life of the Merlin fleet was extended, that would be retired around 2040.

“From the mid-2030s to 2040 there is definitely a UK requirement on two fronts,” he says.

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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SW1 wrote:“From the mid-2030s to 2040 there is definitely a UK requirement on two fronts,”
May be the quotes have been picked 'at random' for a fixed length article, but sounds like:
- Merlins will be life-extended
- and will serve on land *de ja vu* and from ships until 2040

Shaping to be an important year, 2040
- medium helo replacement
- MBT&IFV replacement
- bulk of the fast jet fleet replacement
- Trident (the missile): a new warhead or not. Chevaline - own effort - cost almost the same as the 'down payment' on the Polaris fleet

... no wonder the surface fleet build prgrm runs on a trip feed; we could not afford to start replacing all those, too, at that same time. Have some :idea: fairly new ships in the back pocket. Looks almost like Phil left a spread sheet behind, with the years running further out to the right than just the 10-yrs of EP
- Hrrmph: the SSN replacement (funding need) was hidden from sight simply by moving it by a couple of years, past that magical 10-yr horizon
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

SW1
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Re: UK Future Vertical Lift Programme

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ArmChairCivvy wrote:
SW1 wrote:“From the mid-2030s to 2040 there is definitely a UK requirement on two fronts,”
May be the quotes have been picked 'at random' for a fixed length article, but sounds like:
- Merlins will be life-extended
- and will serve on land *de ja vu* and from ships until 2040

Shaping to be an important year, 2040
- medium helo replacement
- MBT&IFV replacement
- bulk of the fast jet fleet replacement
- Trident (the missile): a new warhead or not. Chevaline - own effort - cost almost the same as the 'down payment' on the Polaris fleet

... no wonder the surface fleet build prgrm runs on a trip feed; we could not afford to start replacing all those, too, at that same time. Have some :idea: fairly new ships in the back pocket. Looks almost like Phil left a spread sheet behind, with the years running further out to the right than just the 10-yrs of EP
- Hrrmph: the SSN replacement (funding need) was hidden from sight simply by moving it by a couple of years, past that magical 10-yr horizon
Whatever the decisions it will mean that in the current 2020-2030 budget, money will need to be spent either to upgrade and extend the service lives on Puma and merlin or remove both.

The failure to put in place a long term plan for the helicopter fleet it looks like we may have to pay twice now for medium helicopter fleet provided they’re not withdrawn without replacement, an interim buy to bridge the gap until a long term replacement is found. Had proper planning been in place then replace for Puma merlin and indeed wildcat (who’s replacement will be in that time frame too) could already been well underway with a common type streamlining logistics and training and increasing fleet availability and potentially with a solution that others would of been looking for too.

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