The Puma Life Extension Programme. Airbus Helicopters UK is the prime, with work being completed at Airbus Helicopters facilities in UK, France and Romania. This major upgrade to engines, airframe and navigation and communications equipment will provide a significant and importantly, value for money uplift in performance and capability, which will allow the Puma to remain at the forefront of operational support until at least 2025. The Puma’s significantly enhanced lift performance in demanding environmental conditions, coupled with a small footprint makes it ideal for rapid world-wide deployment on contingency tasks and urban operations. Aircraft deliveries for the fleet of 24 have passed the 50% mark and will be complete by the Autumn of 2014.
Airbus Helicopters UK products have played a significant part in the UK Defence area since the early 70’s. For example, over the period, some 40 RAF Puma aircraft have provided superb world-wide support to ground forces; including operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. However, this was achieved with minimal UK based support. In 2007 it was decided to create an on-shore defence capability, capable of better supporting current aircraft and to explore new UK markets. One of the main aims for this move was to provide the Ministry of Defence with access to alternative design and industrial solutions delivering increased choice. This move coincided with a requirement to conduct a major life extension and upgrade programme to the Puma.
Airbus Helicopters UK is providing the early years of support to the aircraft including the coordinating design responsibility that provides on-shore design and modification. We have already trained the RAF flying instructors who are now training front-line crews. In addition we are working to provide further support through life to meet the MoD’s evolving requirements.
All military helicopter pilots have been trained on Airbus Helicopters products since the late 70’s; in the past with Gazelle and today at the Defence Helicopter Flying School with Squirrel. This is a record we are extremely proud of and when the MoD changes to the Military Flying Training System for helicopters Airbus Helicopters UK will seek to provide new and innovative products and solutions to ensure the MoD has top quality platforms capable of delivering top quality training to UK front-line crews.