Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Contains threads on Royal Air Force equipment of the past, present and future.
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

NH-90 is pretty much the same size as a Puma and the Blackhawk for that matter.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Ron5 »

SW1 wrote:NH-90 is pretty much the same size as a Puma and the Blackhawk for that matter.
My quick google says NH90 in 10 ton class, Puma, 7 tons and AW149, 8.5. Are those numbers wrong?

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Little J »

And the Blackhawk is 10 t...

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by jimthelad »

NH-90 is an expensive very flawed machine with very little growth potential. Everyone who uses it is already trying to find a way to replace it.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

The ship borne/naval version seems to be doing a bit better.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Lord Jim wrote:The ship borne/naval version
You are right and there are two of those: the 'frigate' one, and the Swedish bespoke ASW version, most of the time land-based.
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

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From the Telegraph ..
Airbus skirmishes with Italian rival in battle for MoD helicopter contract

Defence contractor accuses Leonardo of ‘dangling carrot’ of British investment with chopper contract win
By Howard Mustoe 25 November 2021 • 10:00am

Airbus has hit out at an Italian rival for “dangling carrots” over UK investment as the two companies battle to win a major helicopter contract from the Ministry of Defence.

Leonardo, which owns AgustaWestland, has promised to invest £1bn in Britain if its bid to replace the ageing fleet of Puma medium-lift helicopters in 2025 is successful.

However Colin James, the UK boss of Airbus Helicopters, said his company invested about £300m a year in the UK, where it makes wings and landing gear for civilian aircraft.

“I haven’t heard [Leonardo] say what that £1bn will be used for, and I haven’t heard them say in what time period we’re talking about,” said Mr James.

“But what we can unequivocally say is that in any three-year period, Airbus is doing £1bn of investment in the UK and we’re not in the business of dangling carrots.”

Leonardo is pitching its AW149, a purpose-build military helicopter that first flew in 2009. It touts the model as ready to be available quickly should it be chosen.

Nick Whitney, UK chief of Leonardo Helicopters, said: “We have an in-service product, it’s military off-the-shelf. It can be produced in relatively short order timescales.

Leonardo owns Britain’s sole military helicopter factory in Yeovil. “Ours is already done, theirs isn't, so you've got inherent risk,” he added.

Airbus says it will design a military version of its H175 civilian aircraft that is sold as a transport for heavy users such as the oil and gas industry.

It insists this is the better plan since it will be able to custom-build the helicopter around the MoD’s demands rather than buying a craft designed around Italian specifications. Leonardo has said it will build a helicopter fit for the UK’s needs.

Choosing Airbus would also mean a second helicopter factory in the UK, making Britain more of a centre for selling the craft, it argued.

Both companies touted lower costs for taxpayers since each has a related civilian version that can be used for training. They are both big suppliers to the MoD and keen to show that training costs can be slashed through the use of control systems familiar to Royal Air Force pilots.

The successful bidder will have access to an export market that could be worth up to 550 orders, with the UK as a primary customer – a very useful marketing tool.

The MoD will host a “market interest day” on Thursday to deliver more information to potential bidders.

The contract for 36 to 44 aircraft could be worth up to £1bn.

Defence contractors are cognisant of the fact that military contracts come with the expectation of local jobs. Each is offering up to 400.

Leonardo would build a new production line at Yeovil at the historic home of Westland helicopters, and Airbus would make the helicopters at its site in Broughton near Chester.

The Puma was introduced in the early 1970s and replaced the 1950s-era Westland Whirlwind, which was a licenced build of the US Sikorsky Chickasaw. Its first major deployment was in Zimbabwe, overseeing the ceasefire after which Robert Mugabe became prime minister.

It was also deployed in Northern Ireland, Belize and during British manoeuvres during the Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations in the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in 1991.

However, it struggled in hot conditions at altitude in Afghanistan, according to an RAF assessment of its history. It was thus upgraded from 2012 to extend its life and power with new engines and other improvements.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by BB85 »

Sounds like a bit of a veiled threat to be honest. The government allowing BAE to sell their stake in Airbus from a political point if view was insane unless they where willing to purchase the shares themselves.
I can't see airbus's selling many commercial helecoptors from the UK when they can produce the same model from China at a fraction of the price. They are a good running horse to get the most competitive deal out of Leonardo possible.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by dmereifield »

BB85 wrote: 25 Nov 2021, 17:33 Sounds like a bit of a veiled threat to be honest. The government allowing BAE to sell their stake in Airbus from a political point if view was insane unless they where willing to purchase the shares themselves.
I can't see airbus's selling many commercial helecoptors from the UK when they can produce the same model from China at a fraction of the price. They are a good running horse to get the most competitive deal out of Leonardo possible.
Right on both accounts...

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

As will all aircraft types made in China they tend to only be for the Chinese market. Most major subs tend to be dual sourced or very quietly repatriated to western production facilities for western customers who will not accept Chinese manufactured major subs in their aircraft.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

China is a bit of a "Red Herring" in all this, and will have little or no impact on Airbus's submission for the competition. My vote would go to Leonardo as it still can produce the Merlin, unless these are now all produced in Italy. A slow trickle of orders seems to be continuing with this platform leaving the door ajar for a future order for additional airframes to supplement or replace existing ones.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by RichardIC »

So Sikorsky aren't bothering then...

Sikorsky pitches Polish-built Black Hawks as UK Puma replacement

https://www.flightglobal.com/helicopter ... 12.article

Sikorsky will offer Polish-built S-70M Black Hawk helicopters for the UK’s New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement, the manufacturer confirms.

The US airframer, part of Lockheed Martin, proposed the S-70M in its response to a request for information from the UK Ministry of Defence submitted on 9 December.

In addition, Sikorsky says it acknowledges London’s requirement to “maximise social value” in its offer and intends to deliver its proposal “in cooperation with UK-based companies involved in manufacturing, training and through-life support of the aircraft”.

No details of the planned industrial participation have been disclosed. But a recent contract secured with Romania for six S-70Ms could offer a clue to Sikorsky’s strategy: the helicopters will be assembled in Poland before local completion activities are performed by Deltamed and Romaero.

“We believe the Black Hawk helicopter’s mature and defined military design, latest-generation systems, proven combat effectiveness. multi-mission capabilities, open architecture and wide range of optional mission equipment makes it the best choice for the UK’s NMH requirement, especially when compared to aircraft originally designed for non-military, civil missions,” says Paul Livingston, chief executive of Lockheed Martin UK.

Sikorsky has made much of the ‘combat-proven’ status of the Black Hawk, particularly against its main rivals for the NMH deal – the Airbus Helicopters H175M and Leonardo Helicopters AW149.

Although the AW149 was a military helicopter from its inception, the manufacturer has seen more sales success with its AW189 civil variant. The H175M, meanwhile, is a militarised variant of the Airbus super-medium-twin.

However, both Airbus and Leonardo have promised to build the helicopters in the UK, should they win the NMH contest, opening the door to additional export sales.

Under NMH, between 36 and 44 helicopters are to be acquired to replace the Royal Air Force’s fleet of 23 Puma HC2 helicopters, plus three other rotorcraft types operated by the British Army and special forces. The full value of the contract could run to £1 billion ($1.3 billion).

Deliveries could begin in 2024, according to the MoD’s draft procurement timeline.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by bobp »

Kind of like the Black Hawk especially the version with wings with a big weapon capacity. Down side is its age and not much in the way of UK content.


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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

How many has Poland bought to earn the privileged position of building ours should the government select this option?

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Jensy »

SW1 wrote: 13 Dec 2021, 21:56 How many has Poland bought to earn the privileged position of building ours should the government select this option?
Good question. I've seen suggestions of 35 or 62. I'm finding their website pretty difficult to read on android: https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-pl/index.html

Further confused as it seems there is mention of them building for other European nations but also talk of initial platforms being flown out from the US.

This comes across as a fairly strong, barely veiled attack on the H175M:
“We believe the Black Hawk helicopter’s mature and defined military design, latest-generation systems, proven combat effectiveness. multi-mission capabilities, open architecture and wide range of optional mission equipment makes it the best choice for the UK’s NMH requirement, especially when compared to aircraft originally designed for non-military, civil missions,”

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

Jensy wrote: 13 Dec 2021, 23:33
SW1 wrote: 13 Dec 2021, 21:56 How many has Poland bought to earn the privileged position of building ours should the government select this option?
Good question. I've seen suggestions of 35 or 62. I'm finding their website pretty difficult to read on android: https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-pl/index.html

Further confused as it seems there is mention of them building for other European nations but also talk of initial platforms being flown out from the US.

This comes across as a fairly strong, barely veiled attack on the H175M:
“We believe the Black Hawk helicopter’s mature and defined military design, latest-generation systems, proven combat effectiveness. multi-mission capabilities, open architecture and wide range of optional mission equipment makes it the best choice for the UK’s NMH requirement, especially when compared to aircraft originally designed for non-military, civil missions,”
Yeah it’s 4 a/c. But Sikorsky bought the factory a decade ago, it’s where a lot of merlin fabrication is done. As the government has left no stone unturned in their quest to destroy the aviation industry in this country they may go for this but it’s a pathetic offer.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Repulse »

SW1 wrote: 14 Dec 2021, 07:44 As the government has left no stone unturned in their quest to destroy the aviation industry in this country they may go for this but it’s a pathetic offer.
Absolutely - the UK needs to have an "independent" core defence manufacturing industry for all key assets. Doesn't mean it needs to be 100% UK owned, nor does it mean that we have to buy everything domestically, but it mean we need options when when country X wants to exert political pressure on us. The US are an ally but as recent events such as Steel Tariffs have shown they are not beyond using leverage to interfere.
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

We might need key defence capabilities to be manufactured in the UK, but some of these have atrophies so much they will never recover.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SD67 »

Is that really true though? Outside the land vehicles domain I cannot really think of any serious degradation in sovereign capability. Shipbuilding is stronger than it's been for a while. Is Typhoon any less successful than Tornado? Is Tempest in a more difficult spot than the French-lead program? Missiles - the complex weapons program is a model of MOD / Industry collaboration.
Westland was struggling for decades, living off license production deals. Leonardo seems to be a serious and committed owner, even though their patience is probably tested at times
Boeing seems to have a continuing hold over the process though - nobody ever got fired for buying IBM and all that

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

Look at our manufacturing capacity ten or twenty years ago compared to now. That was the level of atrophy I was referring to. Aerospace isn't that strong really, the number of sites used by BAe has shrunk and thought Typhoon has become a success due to the Gulf States playing Top Trumps with each other, BAe now really sees itself as a US company that one rooted in the UK. For UK aerospace everything hinges on TEMPEST being a success.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

Lord Jim wrote: 16 Dec 2021, 20:57 Look at our manufacturing capacity ten or twenty years ago compared to now. That was the level of atrophy I was referring to. Aerospace isn't that strong really, the number of sites used by BAe has shrunk and thought Typhoon has become a success due to the Gulf States playing Top Trumps with each other, BAe now really sees itself as a US company that one rooted in the UK. For UK aerospace everything hinges on TEMPEST being a success.
Our level of manufacturing capacity in UK aerospace is actually quite gd infact you could argue higher today that 10 years ago but that’s all thanks to the major components we manufacture as an integral member of the Airbus family and the unprecedented monthly build rates on the a320 series in particular.

For UK military aerospace things hinge on being able to assembly integrate and test weapons and sensors in the UK.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SD67 »

I tend to agree. There is a massive unseen aerospace industry in the UK at the subcontractor level, and it has gotten stronger over the last couple of decades. Partly the evolution of the industry pushing more design work down the supply chain, which plays to the UK's strengths. Do you want to build 100% of 117 Tridents or 20% of 10,000 A320s (and it's not just wings) ?

Military yes Tempest is very important which it's why it's being prioritised, but it's hard to see a Western country that's ahead of us, apart from the US

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

Yes we are talking Military aviation here and yes there is a bigish number of sub-contractors working of joint programmes with a Airbus and other consortiums, but the number of military platforms designed and finally assembled in the UK is at a level where it is TEMPEST or bust, though as the Government has prioritised it for the moment it should be safe for the Time being. For some reason though I keep thinking of the TSR2 and seeing us build a number of TEMPEST demonstrators and test platforms but then the Government of the time decides the platform is too expensive, and goes looking for an overseas platform into which we may be able to incorporate some of the tech developed for TEMPEST.

Turning back to the Puma replacement, we are in the same old situation where we are going to probably end up building a foreign design. If all production of the winner is transferred to the UK plant we will see a real benefit if and when export order appear now we are using said platform. However if we only ever manufacture the platform destined for the UK Armed Forces any gains will be only temporary and our on shore helicopter industry will continue to atrophy.

As for our Warship building strategy, unless we get a drumbeat going in one or two yards, manufacturing of these platforms is going to being more and more expensive as industry has to deal with a stop/start situation, deterring them from investing in more efficient processes and making it hard for them to retain a trained workforce. The downhill slide could see us initially only outfitting Warships in future, which could be done in house by the Royal Navy at one of its Dock Yards.

On the land side, the best hope for any manufacturing base to be brought back for near death is Rheinmetall's teaming up with BAe Land Systems. The UK sites could become the main site for the manufacture of the Boxer, with probably one site remaining in Germany with the other closing if it hasn't already and I think the Dutch one has also closed. But what follows Boxer? If we could join the Franco/German next generation Tank programme and have some work carried out in the UK it would be a start, but other countries have already been refused entry to that programme so we may not be able to. Mind you if the British Army buys enough Boxers to equip the two Heavy BCTs as well as replace FV432s and other legacy AFVs across the service we could be manufacturing the platform well into the 2030s.

So yes we do have the manufacture of military equipment across all three or four domains still in this country but it is really on life support and dependant on Government Orders and policy. Lack of the former and a change in the latter could be lethal. Exports could well be only for the designs of platforms to allow customers to build platforms in their own countries. But to maintain the design expertise we need the manufacturing capability that would support these design houses unless the MoD takes this capability in house.

This is a half full or half empty topic and as you can see my glass is half empty. Please don't bite me head off when you counter my opinion, but I look forward to counter arguments.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

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Lord Jim wrote: 17 Dec 2021, 11:37 Yes we are talking Military aviation here and yes there is a bigish number of sub-contractors working of joint programmes with a Airbus and other consortiums, but the number of military platforms designed and finally assembled in the UK is at a level where it is TEMPEST or bust, though as the Government has prioritised it for the moment it should be safe for the Time being. For some reason though I keep thinking of the TSR2 and seeing us build a number of TEMPEST demonstrators and test platforms but then the Government of the time decides the platform is too expensive, and goes looking for an overseas platform into which we may be able to incorporate some of the tech developed for TEMPEST.

Turning back to the Puma replacement, we are in the same old situation where we are going to probably end up building a foreign design. If all production of the winner is transferred to the UK plant we will see a real benefit if and when export order appear now we are using said platform. However if we only ever manufacture the platform destined for the UK Armed Forces any gains will be only temporary and our on shore helicopter industry will continue to atrophy.

As for our Warship building strategy, unless we get a drumbeat going in one or two yards, manufacturing of these platforms is going to being more and more expensive as industry has to deal with a stop/start situation, deterring them from investing in more efficient processes and making it hard for them to retain a trained workforce. The downhill slide could see us initially only outfitting Warships in future, which could be done in house by the Royal Navy at one of its Dock Yards.

On the land side, the best hope for any manufacturing base to be brought back for near death is Rheinmetall's teaming up with BAe Land Systems. The UK sites could become the main site for the manufacture of the Boxer, with probably one site remaining in Germany with the other closing if it hasn't already and I think the Dutch one has also closed. But what follows Boxer? If we could join the Franco/German next generation Tank programme and have some work carried out in the UK it would be a start, but other countries have already been refused entry to that programme so we may not be able to. Mind you if the British Army buys enough Boxers to equip the two Heavy BCTs as well as replace FV432s and other legacy AFVs across the service we could be manufacturing the platform well into the 2030s.

So yes we do have the manufacture of military equipment across all three or four domains still in this country but it is really on life support and dependant on Government Orders and policy. Lack of the former and a change in the latter could be lethal. Exports could well be only for the designs of platforms to allow customers to build platforms in their own countries. But to maintain the design expertise we need the manufacturing capability that would support these design houses unless the MoD takes this capability in house.

This is a half full or half empty topic and as you can see my glass is half empty. Please don't bite me head off when you counter my opinion, but I look forward to counter arguments.
I wouldn’t class the aw149 as a foreign design. H175m May have some uk design content but it would be small, Blackhawk none.

But then I go back to a point I’ve made before, it not necessarily a bad think selecting a base design from overseas provided you can assemble it in the uk and integrate areas you consider have the high value. For aerospace I’d say power plant, sensors (radar, IR, ew) and composite tech and complex weapons. You can see how it can work if look at the Raytheon site at broughton.

If you ignore chinook there is 160+ helicopter that operate in the medium space selecting a base design and modifying to role as osd come due would offer anything but an atrophy of the helicopter industry see the surion in South Korea as an example.

Airbus and Bae are the major contributors to typhoon which is still completing a/c in the uk and there will be loyal wingmen drone development too.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

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