The Ministry of Defence has announced today that a total of 44 Medium helicopters are being sought to replace the ageing Puma, Bell 212, Bell 412 and Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin fleets within the British Armed Forces.

A number of major players in the European Defence Industry are expected to bid on the contract known as New Medium Helicopter (NMU), including Lockheed Martin and AceHawk Aerospace with the venerable UH-60M Blackhawk, Airbus with the H175M and Leonardo UK with the AW149.


The author of this article is Defence and Conflict Analyst @Sierra__Alpha, he can be found on Twitter by clicking here and can often be found in the UK Defence Journal as well as other publications providing an insightful view on current events.

This article is the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the UK Defence Journal. If you would like to submit your own article on this topic or any other, please see our submission guidelines.


 

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Coll
Coll
7 days ago

What were the issues with the allocated contracts connected to the Type 31 Frigates?

stevethemanc
stevethemanc
3 days ago
Reply to  Coll

The issues were. Corruption, fraud, nepotism, Oxford, Cambridge, civil servants and politicians.

James
James
3 days ago
Reply to  stevethemanc

lol

Bob
Bob
7 days ago

Just get on and buy refurbished Blackhawks; cheaper, quicker to enter service and good enough for what we require (Maybe order a few new MH-60M’s for the SF community).

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

But it never works out cheaper Bob. The economic argument is all for the British build machine. If we buy a US product that billion pounds has gone all spent to support the US government handing our tax pounds to a different nations tax base. If we buy the U.K. product even if it’s more expensive almost all the money is recycled back into the U.K. tax base. All those people will be payed by this and then all give 30%-40% of their wages back to the government…they will buy stuff and pay Vat, the shops and cinemas they frequent… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

That’s the potential for sure. It’s why India, Turkey and Australia are organising acquisitions to build their own industries, I guess we have become somewhat complacent on the matter and just not vocused on building capability and instead ignored it altogether or allowed it due to piecemeal planning and inconsistent as and when equipment acquisitions with costly add ons to suit the MoD and forces generally why our defence businesses have so often slipped into foreign hands and companies there who have long term planning from their own Govts. France has truly thrived on that sort of long term commitment… Read more »

peter fernch
peter fernch
7 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Yes the French wouldnt dream of buying foreign they back their own industry I ust wish we ahd the same pride in our abilitys to make what we need

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The £ to $ exchange rate keeps moving against us making US imports ever more expensive.

Bob
Bob
7 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not as expensive as buying a product that is not fit for purpose (Merlin cough)

George Parker
George Parker
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Ajax – double cough, splutter and a wheeze for good measure.

John Clark
John Clark
7 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Wildcat cough, cough cough…….

Gary Furness
Gary Furness
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Fishermen’s for that cough 👍🇬🇧

Joseph Todd
Joseph Todd
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Ever been into battle in one Bob .. Merlin is an outstanding price of British/Italian technology… I would far rather travel in one of those than even the old sea king… Westlands aircraft and its successors build incredible vehicle based in established and emerging technologies… I really should like to know what your 4 minutes of toilet baesd Google research has flung up

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Merlin is an outstanding helicopter for what it is designed to do.

Bob
Bob
7 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Yes, for the Navy. Didn’t do so well when we gave it to the air force and tried to use it in hot/high conditions.

lee1
lee1
4 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Actually I gather the RAF was rather happy with it in general. They did not want to get rid of them, they were forced to.

Whlgrubber
Whlgrubber
4 days ago
Reply to  Bob

The Merlin was designed and built as an ASW helicopter, not for transporting booties in Afghanistan

John Hartley
John Hartley
4 days ago
Reply to  Whlgrubber

Don’t forget that AW101 built after aborted Presidential helicopter bid, are a hell of a lot better than earlier EH101.

johan
johan
6 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

its better than the exchange rate on the Euro

Bob
Bob
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

We have had years of this “Home grown” argument and ended up with expensive, second rate equipment as a result.

This is a minor program, for once just spend the cash up front and buy something that works.

George Parker
George Parker
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Bob, if we are forced to buy foreign, we should insist on a 100% UK build. At least that way we supply our own spares and upgrades at our discretion. Westland Sea King being a fine example. I have no gripe regarding joint R&D projects etc. Again, ONLY if we have our own 100% manufacturing facilities here in Great Britain. It keeps the skilled labour and the cash here. The fate of BAE Systems, Scotswood should be a lesson for us all. They built Challenger 2 tanks. 2022 and we cannot even upgrade them without help from Germany. Churchill must… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

so is merlin second rate or the best rotor of its type in the world, the Lynx was well know as being a total failure ? and the wildcat is just awful. The U.K. builds some of the very best rotors in the world at a competitive price. Our major rotor manufacturer has a proven design that is aready in service that will not only deliver a great rotor but will secure our sovereignty capability for another generation. It’s not a minor programme it’s a program with profound implications for yet another high tec key industry….yes just buy whatever as… Read more »

George Parker
George Parker
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Well said Jonathan! It’s really a no brainer. There should be no need to explain such a simple concept. People in procurement need schooling in BOB. Buy Only British, unless there is an urgent requirement and no option but to buy foreign.

simon alexander
simon alexander
7 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

would love to buy british , the harrier was the last of the line. world beating, promoted by hawker sidley not the reluctant MOD and export sales. surely these days it requires international cooperation.

Bob
Bob
7 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

We no longer have the market to develop all of our own kit and it’s about time people realised that.

Buy in where we need to and specialise. Who knows, we might actually produce something so good that other countries will buy it.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

No China or America will always produce it cheaper and all our tax pounds will be invested in other nations industrial base and tax base. It’s lazy short term neoliberalism that will see the fall of the west and our own nation into insignificance and powerlessness. Geopolitics allows for some working together, but fundamentally succeful nations always look out for their industry and trade before all other considerations. The nation that is richer and out produces will almost always win in the long term.

Jonno
Jonno
7 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Do what Israel does. They have some excellent kit and a tiny population and go it alone because they can get spares have currency problems, etc.

Bob
Bob
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonno

In the sense that they specialise in what they manufacture themselves, yes.
Most of their large kit is US built (often purchased with US “aide”)

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
6 days ago
Reply to  Bob

I don’t agree with that statement at all, we have one of the best aerospace industries in the world. Yes we are not making complete airliners or specific mission types jet, but we are able to build next generation fighters with incredible technology and investing heavily in drone platforms. Is it not unreasonable to expect us to be able to build helicopters at the right price and capability. I think the issues are not industry specific but to do with government/MOD for not having more oversight over planning ahead and having a shipbuilding style strategy for air platforms. And then… Read more »

lee1
lee1
4 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

We could indeed have a successful aircraft industry if we were more intelligent about it… For instance, we sold the Hawk around the world. However we have known for many years that the Hawk was reaching end of life and the intelligent thing would have been to develop a new replacement about 10 years ago so that is was ready to sell replace our Hawks and also available to sell to all the current Hawk operators… But other countries have been thinking about this and have Hawk replacements ready to sell around the world… We need to be designing equipment… Read more »

lee1
lee1
4 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

And do you only buy British too?

George Parker
George Parker
4 days ago
Reply to  lee1

Whenever I can, yes.

lee1
lee1
4 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

So you have a British car? British TV? British Headphones? British Fridge? British Toaster? British Computer?

George Parker
George Parker
4 days ago
Reply to  lee1

“Whenever I can” You do know what that means.
My last 4 new cars have been built here in England.

nonsense
nonsense
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

As I have said in other articles, it is premised on absolute success.

I’ve never seen a weapon that was first made to work perfectly in the field. MOD requires this project to go through improvements and refinements – small failures, which means it will require a larger investment than the initial cost.

As long as there is no additional performance required when introducing a foreign weapon that has completed the reliability verification and development process, there is theoretically no additional cost.

nonsense
nonsense
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I also cheering the buy of British weapons. 

I like made in britain

However, there is currently no system to MOD , to maintain and improve the reliability and excellence of British weapons.

– As I said in another article,

If the proof and maintenance of the superiority of British weapons is uncertain, insisting on British-made weapons with limited budget, time and opportunity is a high-risk speculation.

simon alexander
simon alexander
7 days ago
Reply to  nonsense

N nicely said. I suppose MoD have to think if they want a stop gap off shelf helicopter and preferably collaborate with others on a future helicopter, whilst maintaining UK skills.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  nonsense

Yes but that’s about good procurement, management of markets and appropriate investment control and corporate governance…the fact we have saved a few pounds to cut that capability from the MOD therefore we end up having to purchase and fund foreign industries is exactly the problem. If we don’t stop doing that we simple don’t have any industrial capability left or ability to regenerate. That’s the same for planes trains, rotors, healthcare equipment, drugs ect ect. The most successful nations on earth very carefully craft and support all their key industries and we don’t see we end up pissing away our… Read more »

nonsense
nonsense
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

What I’m talking about is a well-planned investment and the government’s ability to look closely at it and maintain it from a long-term perspective. Businesses are always willing to do stupid things in the eyes of others in the pursuit of profit. Then the government that trusts the company and invests in Britain’s industry loses money, wastes time and opportunity, and suffers huge losses. What to do? Can we reduce these mistakes? Will the government blindly trust only companies and pour out blind money as it has been? Not all industries can be maintained in Britain. right. Then the government… Read more »

nonsense
nonsense
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

China intends to do all technology-related production domestically.
-Independent technology production from all worlds.

But you don’t need to worry about this.
it’s not going to go well

nonsense
nonsense
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hensoldt

As a semiconductor design company, ARM, one of the world’s top five giants, is already located in the UK. But there seems to be no company like Hensoldt in the UK. It’s good for Britain to either build a Hensoldt rather than spend a lot of money to build a few helicopters for Britain, or to invest in the MOD retaining at least some of Hensoldt’s abilities.

Grizzler
Grizzler
6 days ago
Reply to  nonsense

ARM is a poor choice it was a wholely owned (successful) UK company ,it no longer is, sold off to show Britain was ‘open for business’ after Brexit.That is indicative of another Britishism that really makes me mad: Free Market Capitalism! The successful companies and tech we do develop(often backed by public money) is allowed to be bought out by other countries companies and that is held up as a success ..

nonsense
nonsense
6 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Considering that ARM has grown dazzlingly with the overwhelming support of its parent company after being acquired by Softbank – [AMD, INTEL, ARM, the world’s three major main chip processor design companies]

The sale to Softbank was unavoidable. Rather, it should have purchased ARM last year and now, when the merger with Nvidia failed.

It would have been possible if the future helicopter industry, this Aticle’s purchase of helicopters, and Ajax’s project had been canceled and the addition of Apache and the upgrade of Challenger 3 had been delayed by 5 or 10 years. And it’s well worth it.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  nonsense

But why are you making it a zero sum game, it’s not either or we can easily do both. The money is allocated for the helicopter purchase we have a helicopter manufacturer with a very good design who will build it in the U.K. it’s a proven design that is operational in two states aready. We are not talking about investing in a risky design process here.

nonsense
nonsense
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Without Ajax and other projects like this, Britain could have bought ARM or Hensoldt.

In fact, considering that arms trades are done like IP trades and licensing trades these days, obsessing over domestic production means not selling weapons to other countries.

I’ve said it many times,
A simple purchase is fine.
However, it was also possible to seek a direction that would more effectively benefit the industry – future growth potential; helping the real economy with overseas sales and exports.

this domestic production way cannot helping britain economy enough

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Exactly!

Sooty
Sooty
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Well said! All totally obvious to many, but there are still some in government who think otherwise and just look at short term “value for money”.

Donald Bourne
Donald Bourne
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I fully support Jonathan’s missive, I am ex FAA Engineer, 40yrs, and once retired worked for Leonardo in Customer Support until 2020. Leonardo are training 150+ young apprentices and graduates, and recruiting large numbers on an annual basis; these are ‘High Tech High Wage’ jobs for Somerset which the Government laud’s in the Press. We need the AW149, we don’t need any other platform from an non UK supplier. Let’s not turn our back’s on UK Industry, across all disciplines, these are our Children\Grandchildren’s future.

johan
johan
6 days ago
Reply to  Donald Bourne

Issue is these key staff where there and Leonardo stripped that capacity and moved it. UK industry had its chance and SCREWED THE TAX PAYER.
so why does a Italian company deserve a UK Contract and a 2nd rate unit.

Paul.P
Paul.P
5 days ago
Reply to  johan

Because the Italians have more faith in our abilities than we(estminster) do ourselves?

Last edited 5 days ago by Paul.P
John Clark
John Clark
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I suppose my counter to that is the defence budget is constantly being spread too thinly and wasted on expensive UK bespoke projects, instead of simply giving the personnel the specific kit they are actually screaming for, in a timely manner.

To me, it’s front line first, it’s not MOD’s job, let the DTI take the lead on such things, if UK companies can come up with the goods competitively, excellent, if not, then let it go.

John Clark
John Clark
7 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

An excellent example of such poor procurement is the Wildcat, an extremely expensive helicopter, procured in tiny numbers and highly unlikely ever to reach even 100 examples built.

It’s money just shovelled into the bin….

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

The thing is John it’s never that simple. A county that spavs all its money to by foreign kit is supporting another nations tax base and destroying its own… after a number of years of this it has no industry left, has no option but to buy abroad and has a ever decreasing tax base. In effect you are destroying your own capability to defend yourself. so yes you do need to have input from the front line but if you do not have A strategic plan of how you are doing to keep your nation strong in all domains… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I take your point Jonathan, the NHS is an excellent example of procurement from within our own resources, why, because it’s absolutely enormous with a huge workforce and continues to steadily expand, with a ‘huge’ and growing budget to spend. The Mod on the other hand has shrunk dramatically over the last 50 years, halfed in size over the last 30 in fact. During that same period, the cost of military equipment has gone through the roof, to eye watering levels of expense. When you consider a requirement like the medium transport helicopter, we only require 40 odd, 50 at… Read more »

Ben Coe
Ben Coe
6 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Is the AW149 expensive? Aside from buying second hand kit what is the new build alternative you’d buy?
As mentioned above the multiplier means a British Product will in reality cost less than the ticket price.

John Clark
John Clark
6 days ago
Reply to  Ben Coe

Morning Ben, Google tells us $18/$20 million per aircraft as it currently stands. Then factor in the cost of the UK line and the many bespoke modifications requiring an exhaustive trials and development programme. The ultimate unit price is anyone guess, $25/30 more perhaps???! Export is extremely unlikely, as it will be so expensive it will effectively price itself out of the market, so little chance of recouping any money there. Blackhawk apparently $6/8 million, ready to go, tough and mature, just like our Chinook fleet. As mentioned in previous posts, I wouldn’t be against a buy of ex US… Read more »

charles verrier
charles verrier
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The thing is, the MoD never get any credit from the Treasury for making choices to support UK industry. They get a fixed budget and then get slated when custom UK-only projects go over. All stick, no carrot. If the Treasury actually recognised the principle that UK spending is recycled into the economy, they should build extra funding allowances to UK projects (So – MoD could buy 44 Blackhawks for £x, but choosing a UK supplier would release £x+20% ) Or – when doing the value for money comparisons, UK-sourced products would get a discount factor applied to recognise the… Read more »

Jon
Jon
7 days ago

“a discount factor”

Yes. This. About 50% for wholly manufacturered in the UK with a UK supply chain. With a real chance of export orders, that could even be more.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago

yes that’s the problem the MOD should get that funding as an offset, so if the baseline foreign buy was 1 billion and the U.K. buy would be 1.2 billion but return .5billion in tax revenue then the MOD should get that .2 billion back as a top-slice from tax take, with the rest of the .3 billion divided up as usual by the treasury.

johan
johan
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Its a valid Point, but there is no Manufactory line @ Yeovil, Merlin’s now built in Italy. Leo have lost that edge and will have to recruit staff from its European factories to Build here. its like Ajax.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  johan

The staff are still there and Leonardo have made it clear they would open the manufacturing line in yeovil, infact a couple of years ago they promised that if the U.K. ordered the 149 they would shift the main manufacturing line to Yeovil and build all the export orders ( and 149 has a potentially large market). It’s all about negotiations for global Britain, these 40 odd rotors could have a very big impact.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I had an AW189 buzz my house twice last night. Went on flight radar the thing was going 170kts. That’s fast for a chopper. I’m assuming AW 149 could do roughly the same. As much as I like the black hawk I don’t see what they are offering the U.K. in investment. Money spent ina country stays in the country and keeps the skills or remakes them. If the Yeovil could show a direction into unmanned systems aswell that could be a longer term solution as well as the AW149 line. It’s shouldn’t be all on the MOD to shoulder… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
5 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Unfortunately Jonathan, the cost of moving the line, coupled with very high UK manufacturing costs would price the 149 out of the international market.

That’s assuming they can build the standard 149 alongside the no doubt, highly modified UK specific version.

In reality, it would probably go much the same way as Wildcat, a bespoke UK solution that will unlikely ever sell more than 20 examples abroad…

AlexS
AlexS
6 days ago
Reply to  johan

I think Wildcat is built in Yeovil

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

We then cannot upgrade it on our own terms or sell it on to a third party without permission. Then with the US it won’t be compatible with our weapon systems without horrendous expensive upgrade, or do what they intended and only buy US weapons for a US platform just look at F35 and P8

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Yep buying a US or foreign rotor removed your sovereignty over your platforms, it’s one thing a lot of people forget, very good point.

Lee
Lee
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The amount going in to Yeovil will be negligible. We will be paying over the odds for what we need, most of the money will be going out of the UK and we will have potentially worse aircraft that we could have had. The 149s are not going to be built in the UK just assembled here. We should be buying the best equipment we can not just buying for the sake of having a British flag sticker in the glovebox… If we want a helicopter industry the government need to plough money into a hi-tech UK factory and commit… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The key thing is to ensure our armed forces have the best kit we can give them and Blackhawk is the better choice.

lee1
lee1
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

That only works up to a point. Firstly if we are building most of the product in the UK (which we will not be with the AW149) and also if the price is within a certain threshold (Which we do not know right now) and also if you actually get equipment that is good.

stevethemanc
stevethemanc
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

You failed to mention corruption, back handers and out and out fraud.

SteveP
SteveP
7 days ago

The argument to buy British is fine as long as it doesn’t come at a higher unit cost. Too often though we are using the defence budget as a job creation budget embarking on high cost, high risk procurements (MR4 for example). This usually leads to the military either getting fewer units or having to accept equipment omissions. Where we are buying more expensive equipment to support UK jobs then the extra cost of that should come from the department of trade budget and not the MOD budget. Wildcat, which is mentioned in the article, is a great example. The… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
7 days ago
Reply to  SteveP

Yes, but Nimrod MRA4 was b*gger*d by which ever genius decided to fit new wings to old twisted fuselages, rather than building all new. Any project can fail if some one makes a stupid choice.

peter Wait
peter Wait
7 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Corroded ex Saudi comet fuselages that needed new bulkheads and floors ! Varying measurements due to hand built nature hence CAD built wings didn’t fit , they had to have extensive remedial work. Be like trying to turn a rusty Alfasud into a Porsche, BAE stated it was madness lol

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
7 days ago
Reply to  peter Wait

Best car I ever had was an Alfa Sud ….. when it worked and bits weren’t falling off. And that sums up the problem things might be good but doesn’t mean a lot if they are so flawed they are rarely operable and/ or cost a fortune in supplying and running them.

Klonkie
Klonkie
7 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Alfa Sud- god, that makes me feel old. Like having a demanding high maintenance girl friend.

AlexS
AlexS
7 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

The civilian version AW 189 is in service in from North Sea to the Falklands ( Bristow Helicopters in HM SAR service) even the Japanese got them and is certified by Russia to operate in Siberian cold zones.
The smaller AW 139 sold almost 2000 helicopters.

AlexS
AlexS
7 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

In todays industry there are no bad companies anymore. Might appear a lemon from time to time but it would be in the air news magazines fast.

Last edited 7 days ago by AlexS
Klonkie
Klonkie
7 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Spot on JH – Should have bedded down with Yanks on the P8 right from the start.

johan
johan
6 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

P8 Contains a lot of the MRA4 kit, it just needed developing to be smaller, which what BAEs were trying to screw the MOD more cash for on a fixed cost contract. it was too heavy to get off the ground.

Klonkie
Klonkie
6 days ago
Reply to  johan

Thanks for that Johan- have a good weekend Mate.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
7 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

You can blame HM Treasury for that decision.

johan
johan
6 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

The Issue with MRA4s was the sheer weight and size of the kit needed, and one of its problems was it was Overweight, seriously Overweight. BAEs screwed to pooch and they played poker with UK Govs. and lost big time, but not before BAEs took out the Harrier and the Invincible Class in a act of spite. was a main reason why BAE cannot be a lead Bidder on any project for UK.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  SteveP

Steve I don’t disagree, the mod should actually get a budget offset for buying a British product. It should all be built into the as a British purchased rotor will put probably half the investment strait back into the tax base in wages, Vat and corporate tax. Then you have the investment in industry and the good change of more money on tax from export orders….the reality is you could easily spaf 150% more on a British built produce and it still be better value for the taxpay than say a US purchased rotor…the important thing is that the MOD… Read more »

JohninMK
JohninMK
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

So, which of the Airbus H175M and Leonardo UK AW149 options creates more UK jobs and sub contractor work?

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

I have no idea, but my key point is any procurement should take that into account. My personal believe from available literate is that the H175M has a lot of chinese input and work share and I do not believe it is in our strategic interest to support and fund chinese tec and military manufacturing bases. It’s also a civilian rotor that will have some military systems added I don’t believe that’s an acceptable compromise. I would rather Blackhawk than that. The AW149 is a ground up military rotor that has been sold and built already and its production and… Read more »

johan
johan
6 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

AW149 To be assembled in the UK, from parts from third world countries.
H175M Will be served and maintained in the UK By Airbus partners.

so despite all the hard sell by Leonardo, who are recruiting from Kwick Fit. any major money is going out the country.

expat
expat
3 hours ago
Reply to  Jonathan

However that mentality does make an argument to just buy over priced kit that can never be sold to any other nation as it just too costly. Build competitively and get exports is actually the best scenario, Foreign money coming into our treasury is better then recycling a % of money where the rest must come from somewhere else. The counter argument always seem to be we can’t compete, foreign subsidies etc we’ve given up before we’ve even tried.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 hour ago
Reply to  expat

Completely agree, you have to invest to set up the production lines to then have a product to sell. France does it all the time, it’s government throws money at the defence industries to preserve them…

Expat
Expat
18 minutes ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Personally I don’t think France us shinning example it’s probably selling kit at a loss. We need to pick some real focus areas to start with and try and get market share and volume reinvested profits and increase market share further.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 minutes ago
Reply to  Expat

The key is you can make a lose if when you look at the whole picture your nation is gaining…sort of like a loss leader in a supermarket, they accept the loss to make gains in other areas…it’s why you need to look at all these key industries from a whole U.K. PLC and not as an individual product, company or specific tax year.

Joe16
Joe16
7 days ago
Reply to  SteveP

To be fair, the US ‘ military budget is exactly that – a job creation scheme! Laws in place to only buy American, or American manufactured and moves to prevent foreign competitors from producing rival products. It’s a dirty game that everyone seems to play except us, and I don’t think we should be stepping back. It doesn’t help that successive governments have let British industry wither on the vine because they’re only interested in their mates in London finance. Wildcat does have some export for naval use, but with data link and some teeth- both of which ours are… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Yes, agreed. I still want BH for this one though as the benefits to UK PLC don’t make it back to the immediate MoD budget and the forces get less each year.

Joe16
Joe16
7 days ago

I take your point, under the existing system it is a good argument for the (presumably) cheapest quotation- giving the MOD best bang for buck. I’d concur this would be Blackhawk.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago

But we do need to change that system DM otherwise we are just slowly bleeding out tax pounds and industrial capability. I think we should have an immediate offset system so the MOD gets back the tax base gains from spending in the U.K. ( that’s around 30-40% return on the spend). We should also like the US ( and China) have clear laws that protect and develop our industrial base as national assets and geopolitical tools that we need to stay and independent nation. to be honest I also love the AW149 I think it’s a vastly underrated military… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I totally get your argument J, and I agree. But the offset idea for Mod buying British does not exist and probably never will with our idiots upstairs.

I guess we shall have to see what they choose and how much it comes in for!
And it is more than likely going to be the 149 any way for the made in Britain libe HMG can broascast, so these debates are fun but moot. 😆

Would be interesting to know what the end user actually wants. I’ve heard they wanted BH for years.

expat
expat
3 hours ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I agree but industry must also come to the party, support for UK industry can’t be a blank cheque. For my investment as a tax payer I would want to see some of the best productivity in the world, investment in new manufacturing tech, AI and some of the lowest cost high end products.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 hour ago
Reply to  expat

Completely agree. But it does need government to be willing to buy the product and actually support industries to the same level that other governments do, otherwise British industries are and have been doomed.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Exactly. A reason US just gets richer, even during wartime, and will do again from the Ukraine tragedy – not deliberately, just a natural consequence of its economic model. Similar industrial philosophy in Germany and France, of course. Aside, but I believe apposite, there was an article in the Sunday Times by David Smith on our drivers for growth going into reverse. He takes his usual swipe at Brexit which, even as a supporter, I naturally recognised would have a negative effect, if you view the decision purely commercially. But the graph he supplied on UK productivity went back twenty… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
7 days ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

I’d agree with all of that, although I would ask the question also: Who allowed strategic deffence companies to be bought up by foreign entities? That would, unfortunately be the government. They could, like many other countries around the world, block those acquisitions on national security grounds, but they haven’t because it benefits their mates or they simply don’t care.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Yeh. Sorry to regale you with my productivity* frustration, its been trying to escape for some time.
Here’s a curiosity, though. Economists in the UK have been trying to figure that *particular issue for decades, apparently. What that does that for their own productivity?!

AlexS
AlexS
6 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Who allowed strategic deffence companies to be bought up by foreign entities?

Who would have bought them instead? If the UK citizens do not want to put their money or finance weapon industries then the factories would have to be bought by the government and run by the government..

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

It’s simple really for a lot of our competitors the national governments themselves are the major investor, look at the french defence industry one of the major owner shareholders is the french government. It’s the same with power and major infrastructure. Continental governments tend to ensure they are major stakeholders in key business….. where as we end up as customers of those mainly state owned business and tend to fund things like the french and German rail and power networks…our neoliberal market first and always means we now support the french and German rail systems in providing cheap goos railways,… Read more »

Jonno
Jonno
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Who says they dont? They are badly informed about defence as they are about many things. The National shipbuilding strategy is a novel concept for this country. It has a lot to recommend it.
Even pre WW1 the government had to step in and revitalise the Naval warship business. All the the major HM Dockyards built Capital ships as they did SSN’s when they started.

Joe16
Joe16
3 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

In most cases, these companies are generally doing just fine. But other, larger international companies see the value in them and put in an offer that the company’s board is obliged to recommend to the shareholders. Once the sale has gone through, they basically asset strip the company for IP and tech, leaving it more or less a shell, and taking the stuff of value elsewhere- despite any promises made “with the best of intentions” during negotiations. And the government does nothing.
No other government, no matter how much they claim to support free-market capitalism, would allow this to happen.

AlexS
AlexS
6 days ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

The responsibility lies in the culture that have been build.

expat
expat
3 hours ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

That’s not the reality, look at Jaguar/Landrover shocking under UK management have prospered under Tata. The reason the US get richer is it attract investors and the innovators where as we drive them out. Look at some of the tax ideas that have been banded around in the UK, taxing robots, that’s a tax on automation and highly productive manufacturing, reducing tax breaks for RnD work, clearly no incentive to setup your RnD here in the UK. Businesses want stability we need to have a long term politically independent industrial strategy. Not shocks every 5 years.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 hours ago
Reply to  expat

Nothing represents the whole reality though, expat, otherwise you just may have gotten an economist who could figure out the problem.
Sunak appears to have tried, and still tries, to kick our industrial donkey onto it’s feet (1 × e.g:- low rate of Corp tax made hardly any difference).
Appreciate alternative views none the less.

AlexS
AlexS
6 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

The problem with Wildcat is that almost everyone moved on to big helicopters for naval forces with frigates getting bigger.
So Wildcat is now very niche.

Darren hall
Darren hall
7 days ago
Reply to  SteveP

True, but, all nations that build there own go through exactly the process…
Buy foreign or buy home grown…

And why do they buy home grown?
To create / maintain jobs and skills in their country and to re-circulate the wealth within their home market…

Yes buying foreign when their is zero alternative and zero skills in the home nation makes sense.

But, when we have the skills, know-how, facilities and people, we should be investing at home…

All military projects have painful births and protracted development…

Even the venerable Blackhawk was subject to many upgrades / refits etc.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  SteveP

But that’s the point it can actual be more expensive and that’s fine as it’s all about tax take and not individual pound notes. so if you spend 1 billion in the US it’s gone for ever it cost the taxpayer 1 billion pounds. if it’s spent in the U.K. we know exactly in year how much of the will come directly into tax take.. which is probably close it 30-40% that’s before any other money made for developing industries. So a U.K. product has to be in the region of 150% of the cost of a foreign purchase before… Read more »

expat
expat
4 hours ago
Reply to  SteveP

I agree but there’s no reason why British industry can’t be competitive, when its a commercial contract we seem to be competitive in many areas. The problem comes as soon as it government contract those involve some how think its a bottomless pit of cash to call upon. Oddly they all moan when the pot dries up and of coarse they are never to blame. Sir John Parkers shipbuilding report stated exactly this that rates at yards who bid for commercial contracts were far better than those who only tendered for government contracts. My job involves helping British manufacturing companies… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
7 days ago

Just a brief note on weights. Puma 7.4 tons, Airbus H135M 3 tons, Chinook 22.6 tons, AW101 Merlin 15.6 tons, AW139M 6.4 or 6.8 (option) tons, AW149 8 tons, Wildcat 6 tons, NH90 10.6 or 11 (option) tons, Blackhawk 10.6 tons. All are MTOW.

AlexS
AlexS
7 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Wildcat seems too heavy for the space it has.

John Hartley
John Hartley
7 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Shame the Wildcat did not get the foot longer cabin of the Lynx3/Westland606 prototypes.

taffybadger
taffybadger
7 days ago

I was secretly hoping we’d chose the winner between the Valor / Defiant, especially the Valor

Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
7 days ago
Reply to  taffybadger

It’s too early for them and the contract really can’t be delayed any more.

taffybadger
taffybadger
7 days ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

Yeah I appreciate that, pity though, with US buying hundreds of the winner, we could have gotten a great deal

Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
7 days ago
Reply to  taffybadger

Agreed. There’s something to be said for the minimal option this time round and a later switch to either FLRAA or NGRC if that ever takes off.😏

taffybadger
taffybadger
7 days ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

I think this will be the last sizeable purchase will see and will still be in service into the 2050’s, we won’t see any large purchases of helos until the Chinooks finally get too old, and those things can go forever when looked after.

Last edited 7 days ago by taffybadger
Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
7 days ago
Reply to  taffybadger

Yet we’re part of NGRC and discussing a partnership on FLRAA. The oldest Chinooks are being replaced with new builds.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
7 days ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

I agree, whatever we buy may look decidedly old school by decade end. Get what we need now but keep options open for the thirties.

taffybadger
taffybadger
7 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

That’s why I am so keen on the Valor, I can’t see the Defiant winning, from what I can gather it can’t fit in a C17 (I may be wrong) the Valor will have Osprey learned techniques for folding them up nicely for confined spaces! at least in a Naval version, this would give us some measure of future proofing (if there is such a thing)

AlexS
AlexS
7 days ago
Reply to  taffybadger

So you see buying something that cost 2x or 3x a conventional helicopter…

AlexS
AlexS
7 days ago
Reply to  taffybadger

To be operative in 2035-40 without even the kinks fixed? that is crazy

Valor is huge expensive maybe not even possible to land in any RN ship except the carriers. Compare landing that thing in a field to an helicopter.

Conceptually i prefer the Defiant. But i am afraid we might get an Heli LCS II and they choose both…

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
7 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Do you have any evidence for these silly statements? The V280 weighs no more than current rotorcraft, cost no more than current rotorcraft and out performs current rotorcraft. And has been de-risked as it is 2nd generation.

AlexS
AlexS
6 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

V-280 has a empty weight without military equipment, so prototype, of 8200kg per wiki, much more weight than any of the competitors.

The base price that the program was started was 43M$ so much more expensive than a similar current helicopter.

This future will not replace traditional helicopters in next 1-2 decades. It is still too expensive and cumbersome. It will be useful for SF and advance forces but it will not be the bulk of the vertical forces.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
6 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

The V-280 prototype which had a dry weight of 8,200kg and a MTOW of 14,000kg is only a 90% scale model of the final design (can only carry 14 stretchers vs 18/20 for rival midsize utility helicopters). Their final design for the bid is going to be bigger and heavier.

AlexS
AlexS
6 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Thanks. That makes it worse for this competition.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
6 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

And you have a source for this?

AlexS
AlexS
6 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Source for what precisely?
If it is the base price is in wiki for FLRAA program 43M$ at 2018 dollars the expectation cost per air-craft.
Now should be more.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

The est. price is $20m not sure where you get $43m from.

AlexS
AlexS
2 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Please read what i write. I already told you, it is in the Wiki for FLRAA program,.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
2 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

That’s the reason I NEVER quote Wiki unless I have another source to confirm, because there is a lot of unchecked garbage on WIKI.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
7 days ago
Reply to  taffybadger

Agree, this discussion about legacy aircraft is silly, we should be looking to the future not to the past.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
6 days ago
Reply to  taffybadger

Another contender Airbus just announced they were pitching the Airbus Racer design for the NATO common medium lift helicopter requirement which has an expected in service date of 2035. This program is separate to the US helicopter procurement program which is trying and failing spectacularly to design one helicopter platform that could do every job from the smallest scout to the largest super heavy transport (they started with a requirement for 3 designs with common engineering and they are now upto a minimum of 5 designs with dozens of variants).

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
5 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Whilst the Airbus Racer looks snazzy, you simply have a frankensteins monster of a helicopter combined with a turboprop. Whilst I presume every intelligent person on this site would agree that the turbo prop is the most efficient sub-mach rotorcraft that we currently have and that between 80/90% of a rotocrafts time is spent going from a-b and only between 10/20% hovering, then logically the most efficient form of rotorcraft for both functions is the V-280 “type” configuration. Presumably the hybrid “Racer” approach where you are carrying a redundant rotor and engine for forward flight is only there to appease… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Yes, for level flight efficiency the Valor is the best, followed by the Racer, then the Defiant. In the hover, it not as clear cut. The Defiant should have the best vertical lift capacity, due its two co-axial rotors, but also, it does not have any cabin wings to disturb the downwards push of the airflow. Case point a skinny tank Chinook can vertically lift more than a fat tank Chinook. Columbia helicopters who use Chinooks for logging and crane work, remove the external tanks and fit one internally, so that the aircraft can generate more lift. The Racer with… Read more »

Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
7 days ago

Am I missing something? I can only see two paragraphs, neither of which really say anything. Where’s the rest of the article?

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
7 days ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

just thinking the same thing …

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
7 days ago
Reply to  Heidfirst

Shortest article I’ve read for a while.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 days ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

Same here.

AlexS
AlexS
7 days ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

I also don’t see any article.

Last edited 7 days ago by AlexS
Joe16
Joe16
7 days ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

Yep, seems to have disappeared…

Jon
Jon
7 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

I missed it. Was it any good?

Joe16
Joe16
7 days ago
Reply to  Jon

I was too late too…!

nonsense
nonsense
7 days ago

I think it is the result of a combination of complex political transactions and the demands of local industries, rather than simple importation of weapons. headache problem.

Mark Roberts
Mark Roberts
7 days ago

Am I missing something? The article appears to be missing. There’s just an intro.

Steve M
Steve M
6 days ago
Reply to  Mark Roberts

i thought was just me, just a statement

Tomartyr
Tomartyr
5 days ago
Reply to  Mark Roberts

Yup same

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
6 days ago

Here we go again… Augusta Westland. Another episode of government corruption. To be fair, I am surprised there are still those in the tory party who have shares… I know Michael Heseltine and co had plenty.

Mark B
Mark B
5 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

AgustaWestland, Augusta is the golf course

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
6 days ago

Looks pretty (to someone) however as a potential ‘workhorse’ for the British armed forces… what a load of garbage!

johan
johan
6 days ago

Just for a comparison there was a recent S&R Training in Israel involved a Griffin a Black Hawk and a AW149. and it showed the 3 in formation. and of those 3 AW149 Looked like if it took any fire it would snap in 2. lot of glass windows in a military spec chopper. 44 units if we go for either of the Leo or Airbus i see numbers drop. as they need development. Black Hawk ok will be assembled in the UK from parts from Poland. same as all the rest, but at least it will do everything it… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago
Reply to  johan

The 149 does not need development it’s an in service rotor with 2 nations. It’s also a bottom up military rotor that does what it says on the tin. It’s also a better rotor in most ways than a black hawk. It’s got better crash survivability, can carry more troops and a great load a longer distance.

AlexS
AlexS
6 days ago
Reply to  johan

Looked like if it took any fire it would snap in 2

Is now that what it passes for judgement today?

nonsense
nonsense
6 days ago

I will point out the blind spots of domestic production plants that everyone overlooks. 1. Enter into arms procurement agreements with companies to maintain factory production lines in Britain and hire and retain people 2. The company builds a factory in Britain and builds a production line. However, factories related to core technology are already in possession of other countries. The company cannot move this. There is a high probability that it will be the final assembly plant. 3. The final assembly plant constantly needs additional funding from the British government – products made in Britain are not sold in… Read more »

nonsense
nonsense
6 days ago

Pay attention to France’s arms trade

The French government sells.

It is for the maintenance of the domestic arms industry and job creation.

This is possible because all technology-related production takes place in France.

What about Britain?
Blade rotor optics, all must be imported.

A one-off project like this, which simply favors the development of the local economy and convenience to businesses, will never sustain industry and jobs.

sound that industrial maintenance is 
Thin and pathetic plans, not a careful and well planned approach,.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago

There does seem to be a bit of miss understanding around the AW149. first its not a development product with risks, it’s an operational rotor in two states so the design has already been de risked. Second, it’s not an inferior civilian design painted green, it was a ground up build millitary rotor. third, it is a competitively priced rotor and as long as the procurement team are not idiots we will get the 44 required of this already de risked rotor. fouth, it’s not inferior to the black hawk, infact it’s better in many many areas, just go out… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Thanks for that Jonathan. I admire how passionate you are on this particularly. I know nothing of the helicopter myself, so will have a read over a cuppa.

Craig Lewell
Craig Lewell
5 days ago

I also enjoyed reading your post, thanks Jonathan

Klonkie
Klonkie
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi Jonathan. Thanks for posting this commentary, really good reading. Out of interest, is there a particular reason why theAW189 in not being considered as opposed to the AW149?

Klonkie
Klonkie
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonanthan, cancel my last. A glance on wikipedia indicates the AW189 is the civilian version of the AW149

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

I was just going to reply. Yes it civilianed version of the AW149, aimed at SAR, oil rigs and constabulary work as its very high end for a civilian rotor with run dry gearbox. It’s going to be the main SAR rotor for the U.K. and will also be based in the falklands.

Klonkie
Klonkie
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Much obliged Jonathan

rmj
rmj
3 days ago

Blackhawk every time, and yes I’ve flown in them, Merlins and Pumas. A smooth ride, pilots love them and they’re cheaper allowing MOD to use the savings to fill other capability gaps ie ASuW.

Stc
Stc
3 days ago

Who cares which one it is as long no more than should end up gathering dust in a hanger waiting parts from an EU company as the typhoons. Either source a stockpile of spare parts or get the thing built of parts manufactered in the UK. MOD learn a lesson ? someone must a sneaked something in my tea today !

stevethemanc
stevethemanc
3 days ago

Another uncountable amount of cash heading in the general direction of Bloomsbury!