Puma Helicopter (RAF)

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SKB
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Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SKB »

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The Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma is a four-bladed, twin-engined medium transport/utility helicopter. The Puma was originally manufactured by Sud Aviation of France, and continued to be produced by Aérospatiale. The Puma was also license-built in Romania as the IAR 330; unlicensed manufacture of an advanced derivative, the Atlas Oryx, was also conducted by South Africa. The Puma was a commercial success and was quickly developed into more advanced models such as the AS332 Super Puma and AS532 Cougar, manufactured by Eurocopter since the early 1990s; in this manner descendants of the Puma remain in production into the 21st century.

The Puma has seen combat in a range of theatres by a number of different operators; significant operations include the Gulf War, the South African Border War, the Portuguese Colonial War, the Yugoslav Wars, the Iraq War, and the Falklands War. The type also saw popular use in the civilian field and has been operated by a number of civil operators.

The first two Pumas for the Royal Air Force were delivered on 29 January 1971, with the first operational squadron (33 Squadron) forming at RAF Odiham on 14 June 1971. The RAF would order a total of 48 Puma HC Mk 1 for transport duties; during the Falklands War, an additional SA 330J formerly operated by Argentine Naval Prefecture was captured by British forces. The Puma became a common vehicle for British special forces, such as the SAS, and has been described as being "good for covert tasks".

RAF Pumas have been based early on at RAF Odiham, and later at RAF Benson; during The Troubles it was also common for a detachment to be based in Northern Ireland as well. In British service, the Puma has seen active duty in Belize, Venezuela, Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Zaire. Britain has frequently dispatched Pumas on disaster relief and humanitarian missions, such as during the 2000 Mozambique flood and the 1988 Jamaican flash flood; and to conduct peacekeeping operations in regions such as Zimbabwe and the Persian Gulf.

During the climax of the First Gulf War, the Puma proved decisive in rapidly mobilizing and deploying troops to prevent Iraqi troops intending to sabotage the Rumaila oil field. From the beginning of the Iraq War, between 2003 and 2009, RAF Pumas would be used to provide troop mobility across the theatre. On 15 April 2007, two RAF Pumas collided during a special forces mission close to Baghdad, Iraq. In November 2007, a Puma crashed during an anti-insurgent operation in Iraq; an inquest found the cause to be pilot error primarily, however the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was criticised for failing to equip RAF Pumas with night vision goggles and inadequate maintenance checks compromising safety, these shortcomings were addressed following the incident.

In order to extend the type's service, six ex-South African SA 330L were purchased by Britain in 2002. A programme to produce an extensive upgrade of the RAF's Pumas saw the first Puma HC Mk2 enter service in late 2012 and was completed by early 2014, enabling the Puma fleet to remain in operational service until 2025. In 2008, it was envisaged that 30 aircraft would be upgraded, this was subsequently cut to 22, and was later revised upwards for a total of 24 HC Mk2 Pumas to be produced. Upgrades include the integration of two Turbomeca Makila engines, new gearboxes and tail rotors, new engine controls, digital autopilot, a flight management system, an improved defensive aids suite, as well as ballistic protection for helicopter crew and passengers. The upgraded aircraft can transport double the payload over three times the range than its predecessor, and will be deployed by for tactical troop transport, as well as fast moving contingent combat and humanitarian operations.


marktigger
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by marktigger »

the back bone of the support helicopter fleet for most of op banner in Northern Ireland was the wessex. Puma served the RAF well in Belize where 1563 flight provided 4 aircraft for many years supporting the British Garrison.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by arfah »

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

arfah wrote:Royal Air Force want to move the OSD for Puma from 2025 to 2030 in line with Merlin HC3.

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defens ... /72265056/
Really? I thought it was JHC that wanted to extend it....currently led by an Army General.

Not an RAF decision my friend.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by arfah »

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

arfah wrote: Pedantry.
Only to a point, this was a JHC led decision, not an RAF one per se.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by arfah »

downsizer wrote:
arfah wrote: Pedantry.
Only to a point, this was a JHC led decision, not an RAF one per se.
Considering today's date and your branch of service, I put it down to "High Spirits."

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by marktigger »

how closely related in Puma HC2 to the Super Puma given its recent safety history especially where engines, Gear boxes and rotor heads are concerned?

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by LordJim »

My Father was OC SCAF at Odiham in 71. Got to go in both a Puma and Wessex at the tender age of 4. Fond memories of Father Christmas arriving at the Officers Mess Christmas party by Wessex with a Reindeer face painted on the nose. I did however close the main runway down by riding my tricycle down it whist going to see the donkeys that lived at one end of the airfield!! Taken to my Father's office with a burly Flt Sgt saying "I think this belongs to you Sir".

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

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james k
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by james k »

Was the Puma rebuild good value for money and would it have been cheaper to buy an more modern helicopter?

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

They've been a good place holder in the medium space, for us to be able to buy next-gen in that weight class https://img.newatlas.com/sb-1-defiant-s ... 7ecd8be0d8
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)

serge750
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by serge750 »

Bring it on !!!! :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

ArmChairCivvy wrote:They've been a good place holder in the medium space, for us to be able to buy next-gen in that weight class https://img.newatlas.com/sb-1-defiant-s ... 7ecd8be0d8
That looks absolutely ridiculous! It’s rivalling the x-32 in appearance!!!

Of them all I think this is the best layout

http://aviationweek.com/paris-air-show- ... helicopter

Little J
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Little J »

Preferred the original Sikorsky-Boeing concept, it was aw139/189 sized. The SB1 is bloody massive for what it carries.

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

Are they going to be cheaper than the Osprey?

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Timmymagic »

Little J wrote:Preferred the original Sikorsky-Boeing concept, it was aw139/189 sized. The SB1 is bloody massive for what it carries.
You have to hope that the range would be colossal as that fuselage must surely have the space for a lot of fuel...but I suspect it doesn't..

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Timmymagic »

Lord Jim wrote:Are they going to be cheaper than the Osprey?
A lot cheaper apparently. The Valor in particular has deliverately avoided some of the most costly elements of the Osprey (tilting engines, wing fold)

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Jake1992 »

Timmymagic wrote:
Lord Jim wrote:Are they going to be cheaper than the Osprey?
A lot cheaper apparently. The Valor in particular has deliverately avoided some of the most costly elements of the Osprey (tilting engines, wing fold)
The valor 280 has developed a marinised version with folding wings like the osprey

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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

Not sure there will be that much of a cost reduction in rotating the main drive shaft thru a gearbox as opposed to the nacelle. There’s plus’s and negatives for both. I would suspect “cost” reductions will come from manufacturing changes more monolithic structures and a move from hydraulic to electrical systems. As with everything cost related is it maybe “cheaper” than a osprey still could be twice as expensive as a Blackhawk.

I would of thought a 20% whole life cost reduction compared to Blackhawk would be more interesting requirement.

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The Armchair Soldier
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by The Armchair Soldier »

Veering a little too off-topic here. Can we get back to Puma, please.

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

What we would need (?) is a separate thread for " replacing UK medium lift helo fleets" as in addition to Puma, Merlins (other than the ASW rqrmnt) and army Wildcats will be thrown into that cauldron for good measure
- or at least just to add "spice"

Such a thread would then not be under RAF, but bring with it more 'jointery'... flavour of the day, anyway
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: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

Wildcat and Merlin aren't really medium lift in the sense of Puma.

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

downsizer wrote:Wildcat and Merlin aren't really medium lift
Exactly the point of widening the (replacement) discussion. They cost a lot for what they lift, and have been forced into such roles just to make for a minimum production run.

Puma cost a lot to upgrade, too, but I think in doing so a worthwhile bridge was built to adopting the next-gen.

And rather than do a "navalised" spec thru&thru again, why not follow the opposite train of thought, like the cousins, this time around? As in
"Capability set 3 refers to the medium-lift variant.

Because the Marines and Air Force are more interested in a medium-lift, the Army has decided to focus on that weight class for the first helicopters that will be fielded starting in the early 2030s, according to Gayler **.

"Since it's a DoD joint program, we think the right answer is to go with [capability set 3] with other services"
----------
** DefenceNews had been talking to " Maj. Gen. William Gayler, the new Army Aviation Center of Excellence commander"
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: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Little J »

Are AgustaWestland (sorry but Leonardo is a silly name) doing anything for Merlin/Puma replacement? Haven't heard anything - or from Airbus...
Would think we'd have to get in with the Septic's otherwise.

Plus, I always thought that if Sikorsky did an ASW version of the S-97 Raider, that would kill Wildcat sales stone dead.

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