No change in UK New Military Helicopter program requirements

No change in UK New Military Helicopter program requirements

24-Jul-2023 Source:

There have been recent reports that the UK Ministry of Defence has reduced the number of helicopters they will be procuring under their New Military Helicopter (NMH) program.  These news items were quoting Lenny Brown, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters UK saying at the recent Royal International Air Tattoo that the number is now “25 to 35”.

In a statement attributed to James Cartlidge (The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence), he has since confirmed that the requirement has not changed:-

“There has been no change to the advertised requirement of up to 44 platforms in the New Medium Helicopter Contract Notice that was published in May 2022. Candidate suppliers have been evaluated to determine a short-list, and those who are short-listed will be invited to participate in the second half of the competition which will be launched later this year.

The New Medium Helicopter programme intends to rationalise five rotary wing requirements through the procurement of one new medium lift helicopter-type. This approach will maximise
commonality allowing improvements in efficiency and operational flexibility.  Ultimately this is aimed at replacing the aging Puma fleet operated by the Royal Air Force, along with the fleet of six special forces Dauphins, Bell 212s in Brunei and Bell 412s for training and SAR work both in the UK and Cyprus.  The fleet requirement has always been stated as 44, as confirmed in the statement above.

The next stage of the program will be the issue of the final requirements document, expected by the end of September 2023.  There will then be some months for the final bids to be made, further months for a procurement decision to be confirmed, and no doubt a further period while losing bidder(s) appeal the situation they find themselves in.  We do not expect any deliveries before spring 2026 at the earliest.

The short-listed bidding teams are offering the following

  • Airbus Helicopters H175M – a new model not yet produced, based on the H175 civilian model – which has 51 helicopters delivered, mainly in the offshore energy support role.  Teaming includes Boeing as the training and services provider.
  • Leonardo AW149 – military variant of the AW189 and delivered to forces in Egypt and Thailand.  Over 125 delivered across both military AW149 and civil AW189 variants, with just 2 airframes having the Safran Aneto 1K engine being proposed under this program
  • Sikorsky UH-60 – pure military design with over 4,000 in service, a number quoted by the OEM in March 2018.  Many different variants made, covering a wide range of roles

This is not the first time in recent weeks that the Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters UK has been caught out with his public statements.  In a recent LinkedIn post, Brown effectively confirmed that excavator company JCB had cancelled its order for two H160s, a story broken by

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