The Ministry of Defence has released details regarding the extension of a contract with Airbus Helicopters UK Ltd.

This comes from a recent tender notice, labelled as the “Puma HC2 Follow-On Support Arrangement PP3 CF VTN”.

The contract specifically pertains to support for the Puma Mk2 helicopter. The current agreement will be extended “for a period of up to three years – 31 March 2028”. This deal, valued at a substantial £320 million, covers services from 1 April 2025 to 31 March 2028.

The reason provided by the authority for this contract extension was clear, “Justification for the award of contract extension with Airbus Helicopters UK Ltd is through DSPCR Regulation 16 (1)(a)(ii) – Exclusive rights; due to the contractor being the Puma Platform’s Design Organisation holding exclusive rights from a technical perspective”.

This encompasses “technical drawings, data and design information as well as validation and certification activities of UK MOD owned components being proprietary to Airbus Helicopters for the Puma Mk2 Platform.”

Moreover, Airbus Helicopters has confirmed a significant aspect of this partnership, with the contract tender notice stating that “no licences to support the Puma Mk2 shall be granted outside of Airbus Helicopters Group.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Steve
Steve
2 months ago

That’s a lot of money to spend for 3 years support and highlights serious need to rethink how the MOD is financed as this money wouldn’t have been needed is the replacement project wasn’t constantly delayed due to lack of of available cash.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

It does seem a lot. Would need to look at support costs in previous years and how these costs compare with other helicopters.
As the article states airbus are the only people able to do the contract so can really charge whatever they like.
Airbus are probably saying the same thing to the MOD along the lines of if you ordered our new helicopters this expensive extension wouldn’t be required.
Helicopters are expensive, especially old ones.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Would be interesting to know what the issue is, is it the treasury not releasing the cash or some other reason. I suspect they will end up paying more to keep the various helicopters going over the next few years than they would have done by replacing them when they should have been a few years back. Serious bad use of public money, especially in a time when the public purse is empty.

Deep32
Deep32
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

You have got to wonder at the mindset within MOD/Treasury at this decision? £320 million would surely buy the first 10-15 NMH that are needed, beggars belief that we could come up with this idea.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

They support the MIC mate, first and foremost. Keeps their troughs full, shareholders in profit, and people in jobs. Sorry, the cynic side of me, we’ve seen this so many times. The military? An afterthought. Is AUKUS any different in reality beyond the obvious secret R&D stuff? Lots of money into RR at Derby and BAE at Barrow. Great, vital UK industries. But when will the RN see any more than 7 SSN? That are all sitting alongside apparently with no money spent on the shoreside dock infrastructure due to the delays with Vanguard. People keep asking where does the… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

The plan for SSNR seemed to be 8 boats so I’d think that carries over to SSNaukus. The 15 number being thrown around is not happening and personally I think it’s both countries together. Unless they can half the crew and cost.
Ideally 12 SSN are really what’s needed. More is a bonus. Doubtful it will happen but still time before final decisions need to be made.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Astute was also 8 boats before Labour continued their SNN reductions to 7.
Agree, 12 is the number required to take the RN back to what it had up to 2004.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

12 let’s u have 1 far away, 1 near home, 1 on escort and another free for other taskings pretty much permanently. When required more can be surge deployed for a while. 6-7 is more the number for a defence force and an occasional trip somewhere.
More SSN makes having OPVs, Light frigates deployed more credible as no one knows if an SSN is near by.
Just now with 6 that threat is temporary

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago

Are we still considering replacing the puma with new medium lift helicopter or is it on hold or even cancelled ?.Plus seen on other post Ben Wallace thinking about chopping 14 Chinooks ,can someone put some light on this subject ? 🤔

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Ben Wallace is not in the job anymore after resigning so it can’t be him. Grant shapps is the new defence minister. What we can probably assume is that there is no new money for defence coming. Even fully funded projects maybe up for review as the defence budget has decreased this year and when you add in inflation and other defence costs increasing somethings will have to go.
The extra money that mr wallace did manage to secure has been earmarked for nuclear stuff, aukus and munition replacement.

WSM
WSM
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

The story regarding Wallace suggesting that the order for new Chinooks be put under scrutiny came out into the open last week – he was unhappy with the large increase in costs to the program – even if it was a case of mild chagrin after the septics put the block on his bid to lead NATO (who could blame him ?!)

DMJ01
DMJ01
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

The defence budget would have decreased once the impact of the £16bn one off announced in 2021 worked through

Duker
Duker
2 months ago
Reply to  DMJ01

Went mostly for Ukraine… so the pollies can beat the drum , blow the bugle

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

He’s not chopping 14 Chinooks. He was considering cancelling the 2 billion order for 14 new ones that SF will use as we already have a heavy lift helicopter side covered and that money could be used to expand the medium helicopter side instead.

It’s also suggested he has the hump with Biden for blocking his NATO job, but that of course is speculation.

Cancelling the Chinook order also relieves the stretched budget of a 2 billion commitment.

The wider Chinook force has already been reduced slightly by withdrawing some older examples such as BN.

farouk
farouk
2 months ago

Dont forget the HC3 fiasco, where the MOD decided to buy 14 CH47s with 8 been the HC3 for SF use. However they come with different software than your bog standard CH47, and so the MOD decided to save a little money by not buying the software resulting in the aircraft been deemed not safe to fly (By the MOD no less) and how did the MOD resolve the issue after having 8 top (at the time) HC3 sitting around for 16 years, they downgraded them down to the much older HC2 standard which the HC3 was meant to replace.

Last edited 2 months ago by farouk
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  farouk

I try to forget… the famous “Hanger Queens”

Some were stored at Boscombe in the HT&ES hanger I believe. And just when we were crying out for helicopters in Afghanistan. Blair and Brown were getting so much stick they went and bought 6 factory fresh Merlin’s destined for Denmark so we could get an uplift ASAP.

As Wallace has been around in military ( and other security and “defence” circles for a long time I wonder if that also played a part in his thinking.

klonkie
klonkie
2 months ago

DM, I’m thinking glass half – at least their service life was extended due to10 years sitting about in a hanger.😄

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  klonkie

🙄 😀 Mate, it was a scandalous situation. At the time we had a big shortage of battlefield helicopters. We still have a shortage of battlefield helicopters!

And when MoD go for the option that must be built in Yeovil, the wheel will turn again and we will have even fewer. Watch this space with that regards FMH.

Same old argument, home built for jobs or what the military wants in the numbers it needs. See my post top of thread, Industry always wins.

Klonkie
Klonkie
2 months ago

Good post DM – spot on ,industry alway wins. A sad universal truth

Deep32
Deep32
2 months ago

Hi Daniele, I read that article, have to admit that I agreed with BW as to why he was looking at cancelling that order, after costs had increased by some £750 million!!! Totally ridiculous, Boeing obviously in need of cash to offset their 737NG losses – who knows. I think it would depend on whether or not we thought we had ample ‘heavy’ lift capacity out of our current Chinook force would it not? Do we not have the 2nd largest heavy lift fleet(helo) in NATO, surely more then enough for our requirements. It would also be considerably cheaper to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I wasn’t aware the costs had risen. And if so I’m in agreement, spend it on A400 and especially NMH.

Yes, believe we do We are well provided in Chinook capability, yes. But not AFAIK in longer ranged versions, 7 Sqn uses a different Chinook mark for SF work.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago

It could be that the MOD may also be considering that the V-280 Valor, which won the FLRAA competition, might be a more useful/flexible asset than Chinook ER for SOF, especially if Boeing are ratcheting up the price on the latter (shades of Wedgetail?) making it less attractive. It seems the V-280 program may still be on track for initial operation early 2030. Clearly not the same load carrying/troop capacity as Chinook, but the range and speed might be a compelling new capability for UK SOF and the Army more generally. V-280 cruises at 280kn+ which is ~66% of the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

Morning GHF.

Thanks for that. If this is the case, I agree with Wallace if this other option in within acceptable timescales.

Are the ER Chinooks a must have or nice to have, and the existing Chinook capability acceptable? If so, I’d spend that money on NMH and A400, both of which will be in short supply.
Some bright spark will probably say they’re needed as the Hercules was removed. 🙄
Or perhaps the Chinooks are needed as they are also part of the LRG and QEC equation?

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago

I do wonder if there aren’t now some questions at front of mind about how helicopters get used in future, especially with recent experiences from Ukraine. Chinook is a large, slow moving, loud target, which in a SOF role is potentially filled with rare, highly experienced talent, that is hard to replace. In a world of proliferating manpads, using multiples of smaller, faster, longer range aircraft may be the better approach, regardless of defensive measures fitted. Given the Puma extension in service, V-280 might end up being a candidate for NMH too for similar reasons. I agree that we should… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

The U.K. does have some fat tanks on some chinooks. It may only be on the HC5 ones. They are the HC3 upgraded models.
The fat tank gives double the fuel/range/flight time available over normal tanks.

Last edited 2 months ago by Monkey spanker
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Yes, and 7 Sqns examples have other mods too I believe.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

Yep. 10 big scary blokes in the back.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Lol. Funnily enough you’ll probably find some look quite ordinary and even appear wiry and thin. They’re not all 10 foot wide.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

And does Sunak have shares in Boeing? Reportedly he’s supportive of the deal.

Duker
Duker
2 months ago

They are ‘chopped’
They were replacing older models so if they dont buy extra the numbers will reduce
The latest variant of the Chinook to enter British service will replace older versions of the helicopter being retired, the MoD said in a Defence Command paper. “The Army is retiring its oldest CH-47 Chinook helicopters and investing, alongside the US, in newer variants of this operationally proven aircraft, enhancing capability, efficiency and interoperability,” the document read.
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2021/05/13/britain-buys-14-new-chinook-helos-but-itll-take-a-decade-for-full-delivery/

farouk
farouk
2 months ago

And to think I thought I was jesting when I knocked this out yesterday, however I really should have stated, that he was going to delay the project for the next government by throwing it out into the long grass.
https://i.postimg.cc/pTBwgk6C/Untitled-1.jpg

Last edited 2 months ago by farouk
AlexS
AlexS
2 months ago

How many Puma are still in service and how much they fly?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

24 I think…a replacement is sorely needed and the force has taken on tasks that the RAF and AAC Bells were doing too.

klonkie
klonkie
2 months ago

I make it 24 as well, simply too few in light of their expanded tasking.

AlexS
AlexS
2 months ago
Reply to  klonkie

Thank you both, seems a lot of money for just 24.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

£13.3m per helicopter or £4.4m per helicopter each year

Last edited 2 months ago by Monkey spanker
Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

315,000 per month. 10,000 per day.

Total absurd cost. It’s like the total running cost of the helicopter including fuel.

Duker
Duker
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Its really for deep maintenance for many as they are so old to start with
48 was the original buy from 1971
24 did a major upgrade to HC.2 about 10 years back, so presume its some more LifeEx