Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Contains threads on Royal Air Force equipment of the past, present and future.
Ron5
Donator
Posts: 6286
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:42
United States of America

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Ron5 »

From Flight ...
Contenders for RAF Puma replacement face new procurement landscape

By Dominic Perry5 May 2021

With the UK set to replace its Royal Air Force (RAF) fleet of 23 Puma HC2 helicopters by the middle of this decade, the contenders are already lining up.

But the competition will be one of the first major procurements in the country to be conducted under new rules designed to make economic and social factors a core part of the selection process, potentially tilting the field.

Puma fleet is scheduled for retirement in mid-2020s

At this stage of the process much still remains unknown: the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the retirement of the Pumas in its Command Paper Defence in a competitive age published on 22 March. That called for the twin-engined platform to be replaced by a New Medium Helicopter (NMH) by the middle of the decade.

A team has been stood up within the MoD to draft the requirements for the contest, but there is no indication yet as to when these might be released.

“Work on this programme is at a very early stage, with effort primarily focused on developing and refining key user requirements for the new medium helicopter. Therefore, details in relation to the procurement strategy, basing locations, fleet size, delivery schedule and organisational structure are being assessed,” says the British Army, to which FlightGlobal was directed for a response.

Complicating the issue slightly is the decision to also use the NMH to replace three niche fleets used by the military: understood to be army-operated Bell 212 and 412 transports, and Aerospatiale-built AS365 Dauphins which are used to support special forces personnel. The move to bring these within the scope of NMH will have a bearing on both the size of the platform and the quantity to be acquired.

If all current aircraft are replaced on a one-to-one basis, perhaps as many as 40 helicopters could be required under NMH.

So far, the only two manufacturers to declare a definite interest are Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo Helicopters. US airframers Bell and Sikorsky, meanwhile, are waiting for more detail before deciding whether to propose their respective 525 and UH-60M Black Hawk.

Leonardo Helicopters’ participation – as the UK’s only rotorcraft manufacturer – was a nailed-on certainty: it has been touting the credentials of its AW149 as a Puma replacement for several years and clearly views the jobs that such a contract would support as weighing heavily in its favour.

Production of AW149s would take place at Leonardo’s Yeovil plant

But despite being on the market since 2006, sales of the AW149 have been underwhelming: it has been selected by just two customers, the Royal Thai Air Force (5) and Egypt (24); deliveries to the latter are ongoing.

Airbus Helicopters, meanwhile, has indicated that it could offer the H175 or H225M for the NMH contest, depending on the exact requirement, or even the NH Industries NH90, in which it has a majority 62.5% stake, alongside Leonardo Helicopters (32%) and Fokker (5.5%). These span the weight range from 7.8t to 11.5t.

None of these helicopters are without issues, however: no military version of the H175 has so far been developed, largely due to Chinese involvement in programme; the civil version of the Super Puma carries significant reputational baggage, even if the underlying causes of a fatal 2016 crash are now fully understood; and the NH90, while an advanced platform with fly-by-wire controls, seems unable to shake off a problematic reputation.

There also remains the question of whether the UK would really seek to rejoin a programme it left in 1987 while still in its very early stages. And there would need to be an agreement with Leonardo Helicopters to include it in any offer.

But at least Airbus Helicopters can point to a range of options; Leonardo’s approach is essentially AW149 or bust. It has no other platform in its range until the AW101, which with its three engines and 15.6t maximum take-off weight is anything but medium.

Leonardo can of course point to its existing final assembly facility in the UK and supporting supply chain as items in its favour. It says that should the AW149 be selected, this “would establish a cutting-edge new production line in Yeovil” and estimates that “between 60-70% of content and through-life support” will be provided by UK companies. Export potential is also clear.

The airframer is also to the point when asked if it would support the NH90 being offered, or whether it has had any dialogue on the topic with its partner Airbus Helicopters.

“Leonardo’s solution for the UK’s New Medium Helicopter requirement is the AW149. We cannot comment further until we understand the requirements of the UK MoD,” it says.

Airbus Helicopters could offer military version of H175 to the UK

For its part, Airbus Helicopters has indicated that should it offer the H175, there would be a big opportunity for UK suppliers – components currently sourced from its Chinese partners would need replacing after all – adding to the roughly 10-15% of UK content currently on the civil variant.

Final assembly of the H175M would also take place in the UK, for both domestic and export customers. While local assembly of the H225M or NH90 would also be theoretically possible, existing production lines – several in the case of the latter – would likely rule out any export potential.

However, the airframer emphasises the “sustainability” of its approach for both itself and the UK’s rotorcraft industry; sustainment activities, upgrades and supply chain participation can all create more value over the longer term than a single final assembly facility, it notes.

Consideration of the long-term effects of any purchase will be central as the MoD shifts to a new acquisition model that does not prioritise cost or capability over other considerations.

Contained in the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS) document published at the same time as the Command Paper, the new guidance sees military procurement fulfilling a broader need.

“The DSIS is part of a broader, consistent, government drive to promote both our national security in its traditional sense, and the economic growth which both underpins and depends on that security,” it says.

It should, says the document, be viewed in the context of wider policy initiatives as part of the government’s levelling up agenda “to promote economic growth that is distributed more equitably across the UK”.

Black Hawk is combat-proven helicopter

In addition, a minimum 10% weighting towards the “social value” of a contract will be applied in competitions after 1 June, to ensure that “the government takes into account the effect of different procurement options on wider policy objectives, including on the industrial base”.

Although helicopter manufacturing is not among the three “strategic priorities” – nuclear, cyber and encryption – capabilities for which must be maintained onshore, it is seen as part of a wider mix that ensures operational independence.

Previous helicopter investments have benefitted the “UK industrial base” and mean “the UK is still able to design and develop new rotary-wing capabilities” or integrate new weapons and systems, it says.

“This has been enabled by the close relationship the UK MoD has with Leonardo Helicopters through the Strategic Partnering Arrangement, which ensures that together we maximise the opportunities across our current systems, future requirements and exports.”

Maintenance of that capability is vital so the UK can access “the know-how to support and upgrade our fleets to respond quickly to changing threats and operational needs”. Plus, an industrial footprint – the design, engineering and manufacturing skills – will allow the country to help lead the development of a next-generation rotorcraft to arrive in the 2040s. The UK is one of five countries currently involved in a NATO capability study, alongside France, Germany, Greece and Italy.

On that basis, while there are those on the operator side of the fence that would really like to see the RAF flying Black Hawks, the DSIS appears to rule out, or at least make harder, a straightforward purchase under the USA’s Foreign Military Sales process. And would Sikorsky countenance another UH-60 production line? An existing European facility at Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec would likely weigh against that, but perhaps more value for UK industry could be found in a long-term industrial partnership with the US manufacturer, if it could accommodate such a move.

While the Black Hawk is a combat-proven helicopter, and would also offer the benefit of interoperability with London’s biggest ally, if capability is not the be-all and end-all of a procurement, would participating in the supply chain do enough to maintain the UK’s design and development capabilities?

Is the contest Leonardo’s to lose? Until the MoD reveals its requirements it is impossible to say. But for any manufacturer trying to supplant the firm’s special status in the UK, the question has become: what can you offer that it does not already?

User avatar
RichardIC
Senior Member
Posts: 1218
Joined: 10 May 2015, 16:59
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by RichardIC »

Ron5 wrote:Is the contest Leonardo’s to lose?
Yes.

User avatar
RichardIC
Senior Member
Posts: 1218
Joined: 10 May 2015, 16:59
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by RichardIC »

Image

Ah, the black painted AW-139 that's being used as a AW-149 demonstrator even though it's not an AW-149.

User avatar
RichardIC
Senior Member
Posts: 1218
Joined: 10 May 2015, 16:59
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by RichardIC »

Or it may be an AW-189. A bit confused. One thing we can be certain of is it's not the thing Leonardo are trying to sell which is the 149.

Ron5
Donator
Posts: 6286
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:42
United States of America

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Ron5 »

And highly unlikely to be painted black in UK service.

cyrilranch
Member
Posts: 96
Joined: 01 May 2015, 11:36
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by cyrilranch »

RichardIC wrote:Or it may be an AW-189. A bit confused. One thing we can be certain of is it's not the thing Leonardo are trying to sell which is the 149.
Leonardo said in one press output that they would be showing a aw189 painted black to demo it as what aw149 would look like as the aw189 is the non-military version of the aw149 be built at present.

User avatar
RichardIC
Senior Member
Posts: 1218
Joined: 10 May 2015, 16:59
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by RichardIC »

Leonardo lays foundations for AW149 New Medium Helicopter bid

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news ... copter-bid

Leonardo has laid the foundations for its New Medium Helicopter (NMH) bid to the UK, identifying potential roles and configurations for its AW149 ahead of the formal launch of a competition by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Image
Senior programme leaders and test pilots at the Leonardo Helicopters UK facility in Yeovil spoke about the ongoing preparatory work that is geared towards securing the much anticipated requirement to replace the Westland-Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC2 and three other helicopter types in the 2025 timeframe.

“The [NMH] competition is going to have to start sooner rather than later. While we wait, we have looked at the roles of those aircraft flying today [that are to be replaced], and we have taken a view as to how those roles might develop into the future,” Mike Morrisroe, head of UK Campaigns at Leonardo Helicopters UK said on 28 May.

“What that allows us to do is to develop configurations, so for each of those roles we have developed configurations for the AW149. We have got quite a detailed understanding of what the cost of these configurations is, and what the maintenance burden looks like. We have developed mission scenarios, and we have done performance analyses to compare what the MoD has today with what it might want in future. So, for us at the moment, everything we are seeing is confirming that the AW149 is a really, really good fit for the roles that the aircraft [being replaced] have today, and maybe what they might want to do in the future.”

SW1
Senior Member
Posts: 2674
Joined: 27 Aug 2018, 19:12
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

https://www.aerosociety.com/news/a-lynx ... -clothing/

TIM ROBINSON FRAeS checks out one of the contenders for the UK's New Medium Helicopter requirement to replace the 50-year Puma in RAF service – Leonardo's AW149 – a medium helicopter that thinks it's a small one.

Dahedd
Member
Posts: 598
Joined: 06 May 2015, 11:18

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Dahedd »

The 149 certainly strikes me as the most sensible choice particularly when job creation & UK content is taken into account.

Perhaps wee ;) additional order for some weapons pylon equipped variants for the AAC. Punt the Wildcats off to the RN.

Lord Jim
Senior Member
Posts: 6209
Joined: 10 Dec 2015, 02:15
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

Wildcat's usefulness to the Army is its onboard sensors that make it a very good ISTAR/Recce platform, and works well with the Apache Guardian and legacy Longbow. Additional capabilities are being looked into such as data links to UAVs etc. to allow the Wildcat to control these as well as pass data on to other parties such as Artillery and fast movers. There are other capabilities on the "Would be nice", category like adding the radar from the naval version and giving it the ability to engage targets of opportunity, but the priority seems to be developing it further as a key component in the sensor to shooter chain.

Saying that, providing ay Puma replacement with greater firepower that door mounted guns would not be a bad idea, not to act as a gunship but to soften landing zones just prior to landing troops or retrieving them. Podded HMGs or light cannon and maybe CVR-7s with or without the precision kit would do. Not always needed but good to have when you do.

User avatar
Tempest414
Senior Member
Posts: 3022
Joined: 04 Jan 2018, 23:39
France

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Tempest414 »

Dahedd wrote:Perhaps wee additional order for some weapons pylon equipped variants for the AAC. Punt the Wildcats off to the RN.
I have said for sometime now even to the ACC it's self that it needs to clean up it's fleet. As I have said in the past we should be buying 60 AW-149's 20 for the RAF and 40 for the AAC with both based at RAF Benson the AAC should be made up of 50 x Apache , 40 AW-149's and 20 Wildcats giving the AAC the right amount of scouting attack and utility with the remaining 14 Wildcats going to the RN's CHF

User avatar
Tempest414
Senior Member
Posts: 3022
Joined: 04 Jan 2018, 23:39
France

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Tempest414 »

Tempest414 wrote:
Dahedd wrote:Perhaps wee additional order for some weapons pylon equipped variants for the AAC. Punt the Wildcats off to the RN.
I have said for sometime now even to the ACC it's self that it needs to clean up it's fleet. As I have said in the past we should be buying 60 AW-149's 20 for the RAF and 40 for the AAC with both based at RAF Benson the AAC should be made up of 50 x Apache , 40 AW-149's and 20 Wildcats giving the AAC the right amount of scouting attack and utility with the remaining 14 Wildcats going to the RN's CHF
A little off topic but to push this on a bit if the ACC was laid out as above and the 14 Wildcats go to the CHF this could allow the LRG's to have 2 Merlin HC-4 and 3 or 4 Wildcats

Lord Jim
Senior Member
Posts: 6209
Joined: 10 Dec 2015, 02:15
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

So would we be looking at three versions of the Wildcat, the AAC Recce version, the FAA ASuW version and an FAA Light Attack/Recce Version?

tomuk
Member
Posts: 334
Joined: 20 Dec 2017, 20:24
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by tomuk »

Lord Jim wrote:So would we be looking at three versions of the Wildcat, the AAC Recce version, the FAA ASuW version and an FAA Light Attack/Recce Version?
Would that not be four versions because as I don't believe all the army Wildcats are to full recce standard.

User avatar
Tempest414
Senior Member
Posts: 3022
Joined: 04 Jan 2018, 23:39
France

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Tempest414 »

Lord Jim wrote:So would we be looking at three versions of the Wildcat, the AAC Recce version, the FAA ASuW version and an FAA Light Attack/Recce Version?
tomuk wrote:Would that not be four versions because as I don't believe all the army Wildcats are to full recce standard.
It would for now be a simple reallocaition of airframes as 847 NAS already use Wildcat from the pool of 34 battlefield Wildcats

J. Tattersall

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by J. Tattersall »

Lord Jim wrote:Saying that, providing ay Puma replacement with greater firepower that door mounted guns would not be a bad idea, not to act as a gunship but to soften landing zones just prior to landing troops or retrieving them.
I can almost hear the SH crews going WTF !

To be fair though it raises a fundamental question (& I do believe some USAF CSAR H-60s have forward firing weapons) which is whether one wants an assault helicopter (some of which in a mission could be tasked with fire support, others as troop carriers) or an SH/UH. If one wants the latter then frankly weapons are for defensive purposes only, and they're not going to be assaulting a defended LZ in anything other than the most extreme circumstances; and then quite possibly with AH support or CAS.

User avatar
Tempest414
Senior Member
Posts: 3022
Joined: 04 Jan 2018, 23:39
France

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Tempest414 »

J. Tattersall wrote:
Lord Jim wrote:Saying that, providing ay Puma replacement with greater firepower that door mounted guns would not be a bad idea, not to act as a gunship but to soften landing zones just prior to landing troops or retrieving them.
I can almost hear the SH crews going WTF !

To be fair though it raises a fundamental question (& I do believe some USAF CSAR H-60s have forward firing weapons) which is whether one wants an assault helicopter (some of which in a mission could be tasked with fire support, others as troop carriers) or an SH/UH. If one wants the latter then frankly weapons are for defensive purposes only, and they're not going to be assaulting a defended LZ in anything other than the most extreme circumstances; and then quite possibly with AH support or CAS.
And this is why a AAC force of 50 Apache 40 AW-149 and 20 Wildcat is one way forward wildcats recce Apache attacks and AW-149 delivers troops and kit along side Chinooks

J. Tattersall

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by J. Tattersall »

Tempest414 wrote:And this is why a AAC force of 50 Apache 40 AW-149 and 20 Wildcat is one way forward wildcats recce Apache attacks and AW-149 delivers troops and kit along side Chinooks
You make a good point. Let's use things for what they were designed for, rather than bending them out of shape in a laudable, but misguided, attempt to make them omni-role.

User avatar
Tempest414
Senior Member
Posts: 3022
Joined: 04 Jan 2018, 23:39
France

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Tempest414 »

For me if we could get to what I have laid out above with 60 AW-149s based at Benson then I would be happy to have say 10 sets of weapons wings stored on station to allow options but the main job should be troop and kit movement

SW1
Senior Member
Posts: 2674
Joined: 27 Aug 2018, 19:12
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

While such numbers maybe seen as necessary given some of the directions indicated in the defence review I didn’t see any decision to prioritise investment in the air transport/support fleets that would be needed to support such numbers in fact the opposite and considering the personnel gaps in the rotary fleets cant see it happening.

Ron5
Donator
Posts: 6286
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:42
United States of America

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Ron5 »

J. Tattersall wrote:
Lord Jim wrote:Saying that, providing ay Puma replacement with greater firepower that door mounted guns would not be a bad idea, not to act as a gunship but to soften landing zones just prior to landing troops or retrieving them.
I can almost hear the SH crews going WTF !

To be fair though it raises a fundamental question (& I do believe some USAF CSAR H-60s have forward firing weapons) which is whether one wants an assault helicopter (some of which in a mission could be tasked with fire support, others as troop carriers) or an SH/UH. If one wants the latter then frankly weapons are for defensive purposes only, and they're not going to be assaulting a defended LZ in anything other than the most extreme circumstances; and then quite possibly with AH support or CAS.
Pretty sure that was me going WTF when I read your comment :D

All UK transport helo's on ops carry guns. So clearly they expect to get shot at. All @LJ is saying, if a small gun is the current answer, maybe more & bigger guns/missiles is a better one.

But I suppose you are duty bound to obscure the issue :lol:

Ron5
Donator
Posts: 6286
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:42
United States of America

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Ron5 »

SW1 wrote:While such numbers maybe seen as necessary given some of the directions indicated in the defence review I didn’t see any decision to prioritise investment in the air transport/support fleets that would be needed to support such numbers in fact the opposite and considering the personnel gaps in the rotary fleets cant see it happening.
So no point in buying more because there's not enough personnel to support & fly them?

J. Tattersall

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by J. Tattersall »

Ron5 wrote: All UK transport helo's on ops carry guns. So clearly they expect to get shot at.
But that's not what dear Lord Jim was talking about. He was talking about offensive armament to 'soften up' the enemy. Presumably at or near LZs.

UK SH carry guns (primarily door & on Chinook ramp mounted) for defensive purposes, e.g. if engaged while committed to land (doors) or on exiting the LZ (ramp). If one wants an offensive capability to 'soften up' the LZ then forward firing arcs are needed. That's certainly not impossible but it's a technical (e.g CofG, integration) and financial ask. The addition of a few hundred Kg in mass is also going (for a given MTOW with knock-on effect on fuel carried) reduce payload/ range. So immediately there's an engineering / operational compromise. Would you rather use up the mass margin on heavy forward firing guns or on armoured/ crashing seats and a really good DASS?

Lord Jim
Senior Member
Posts: 6209
Joined: 10 Dec 2015, 02:15
United Kingdom

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

Well many of teh platform being put forward as Puma replacements already have the option of hard points to carry external weapons, and have been cleared in the use of a number of these. Of course adding external weapon would affect the weigh of the platforms, but without know the power reserves of the platforms in question how this would effect the performance is not known, Regarding rage the hard points could, like in the case of teh Apache actually be used to carry additional fuel actually extending the range of teh platform.

The predecessor to the Sea King HC used by the FAA to support the RM Commandos, the Wessex had hardpoints for rocket pods, ATGWs and guns, so it is not as if we haven't had this capability before, and having such a capability and not using it is better than need said capability and not having it. I just think the idea shouldn't be ruled out without being researched, even after the winning platform enters service.

Ron5
Donator
Posts: 6286
Joined: 05 May 2015, 21:42
United States of America

Re: Puma Helicopter (RAF)

Post by Ron5 »

J. Tattersall wrote:
Ron5 wrote: All UK transport helo's on ops carry guns. So clearly they expect to get shot at.
But that's not what dear Lord Jim was talking about. He was talking about offensive armament to 'soften up' the enemy. Presumably at or near LZs.

UK SH carry guns (primarily door & on Chinook ramp mounted) for defensive purposes, e.g. if engaged while committed to land (doors) or on exiting the LZ (ramp). If one wants an offensive capability to 'soften up' the LZ then forward firing arcs are needed. That's certainly not impossible but it's a technical (e.g CofG, integration) and financial ask. The addition of a few hundred Kg in mass is also going (for a given MTOW with knock-on effect on fuel carried) reduce payload/ range. So immediately there's an engineering / operational compromise. Would you rather use up the mass margin on heavy forward firing guns or on armoured/ crashing seats and a really good DASS?
So there are defensive guns and offensive guns. Good grief.

And the defensive guns can only be used when the ramp is down? And offensive guns have to point forwards? And armored seats & DASS are needed even though nobody will be shooting at them?

I think you are a tad confused on this.

Post Reply