Eurocopter UK receives military support contract
June 7, 2013, Oxford, U.K. - Eurocopter UK’s role in maintaining the United Kingdom’s military helicopter capabilities has been further expanded with the award of a three-year support contract for the fleet of 24 Royal Air Force Puma Mk2 helicopters being upgraded by the company to extend their life, enhance performance, mission capability and operational safety.
By Carey Fredericks
The contract – valued at approximately 60 million euros – further reinforces Eurocopter UK’s footprint as on-shore service provider to the UK armed forces. Eurocopter UK’s support activity for the Puma Mk2 will be coordinated through its headquarters at Oxford, England, which is close to the RAF’s Puma main operating base.
"As a major onshore supplier to the UK government and its agencies, we are proud to further expand our services in the military environment with this latest contract,” explained Markus Steinke, the Managing Director of Eurocopter UK. “We intend to leverage our significant support expertise from Britain’s civil helicopter hub at Oxford, which is proven to be highly reactive and cost effective, and introduce this into the Puma fleet – setting new standards in military helicopter support.”
Group Captain Malcolm French, the Puma Project Team Leader said “We are looking forward to working closely with Eurocopter UK during this new era in the operational life of the RAF’s Puma Force. In particular, we have high expectations for the support capabilities delivered by and through Eurocopter UK’s team at Kidlington, as we move to field this significant component of the UK’s battlefield support helicopter capability during 2013.”
The 24 Puma Mk2 rotorcraft covered by this support contract are being upgraded under the Puma Life Extension Programme contract awarded to Eurocopter UK in 2009 by the UK Ministry of Defence. All 24 helicopters have been inducted into the programme, with the first aircraft deliveries from Eurocopter UK made in 2012. To date, eight have completed the process. The upgrades will significantly enhance the Puma’s operational capabilities for the Royal Air Force in combat, troop transport, load movement and humanitarian operations, and extend these helicopters’ operational lifetime to at least 2025.
Improvements for the Puma Mk2 include the use of new Makila 1A1 turboshaft engines that considerably increase performance; the integration of a full glass cockpit incorporating modern avionics and a flight management system; the implementation of a digital automatic flight control system; as well as the incorporation of a secure communications suite, defensive aids and ballistic protection for crew and passengers.
Additionally, greater onboard fuel capacity and lower fuel consumption improve the Puma Mk2’s operating range. These upgraded aircraft are able to carry twice the payload over three times the range compared to its predecessor in the most demanding operational and environmental conditions.