DSEI 2021 – Leonardo is putting forward its latest-generation AW149 helicopter for the UK’s New Medium Helicopter competition.

The UK AW149 would be built in Yeovil, Somerset and draw on a UK-wide supply chain of more than 70 organisations.

The companies revealed today as Team AW149 UK members are Abaco Systems, Aerco, Chelton, Ford Aerospace, Forged Solutions, Incora, LFD, RDDS Avionics and Techtest Limited.

Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters (UK), said:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity today to introduce Team AW149 UK and highlight some of the leading small and medium-sized British companies who will be involved in delivering the AW149 for the UK Armed Forces should we be selected. The companies we’re spotlighting today are diverse in what they do and where they’re located but they and we at Leonardo have one important thing in common, which is a commitment to providing the UK Armed Forces with the most modern, capable and cost-effective medium helicopter to meet their operational needs.”

The announcement comes as Leonardo puts forward its medium multi-role AW149 helicopter for the UK’s New Medium Helicopter requirement, which will see the UK Armed Forces replacing four helicopter types including the Puma HC2 by mid-2025.

According to the firms website:

“The AW149 is a safe, agile and robust platform, which can be reconfigured for a wide range of demanding missions in the most severe operational environments. Should the UK choose the Leonardo AW149, the company has pledged to build the new fleet on a cutting-edge production line in Yeovil, Somerset, with between 60-70% of the platform’s content and through-life support being carried out onshore in the UK at Leonardo and through UK suppliers. This would represent an investment in UK skills, design and manufacturing, supporting thousands of jobs, creating jobs across the country and helping reverse the damage to the economy caused by Covid-19.”

You can read more here.

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Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
4 days ago

Hopefully a shoe-in. Makes a lot of sense from a jobs/industry perspective and a parts commonality perspective

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago

It’s also a really good modern airframe as well, with bags of export potential.

Johan
Johan
2 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

FOR WHO

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 days ago
Reply to  Johan

Anyone looking for a medium military rotor.

Lusty
Lusty
4 days ago

This is something that we really need to crack on with, particularly as Puma and other airframes are claiming their free bus passes.

Bonus points if they can operate from the carriers/Albions/Bays to augment the helicopters already in service and take the weight (literally) off Merlin.

Extra bonus points for someone having some vision and using them to help restore the Antarctic rotary wing capability, dovetailed into a replacement for HMS Protector.

Reaper
Reaper
4 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Can pumas?

Lusty
Lusty
4 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Negative, sadly. I believe they only operated from Ocean when she was deployed to support security for the Olympics.

I believe they’re not fully navalised and are a little top-heavy for at-sea operations.

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Yep, Pumas are very top heavy, so are limited for take-off and landings depending on the sea state.

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

After last night Us/Uk/ Aus deal let’s kick the French down the road again Pumas good for lifting not to good for marine ops

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Egyptian Navy bought Aw 149 to be operated from the French build Mistral class LHD.

Last edited 4 days ago by AlexS
Lusty
Lusty
3 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

I know.

AlexS
AlexS
3 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Ok 🙂

But since you said “bonus points” it implied for me that you did not know that AW 149 could operate in Albions and Bays.
Btw the Aw 189 civilian version is certified by Russian Federation to operate in all country. They operate in oil industry mostly.

Last edited 3 days ago by AlexS
Lusty
Lusty
3 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Joined up thinking and the provision of the relevant training courses/qualifications are things which are often found lacking in this county. Plus, it’s not as simple as ‘other countries can do it – so can we!’. We’re replacing ~4 airframe types, including some which haven’t operated from Royal Navy vessels in the past (Puma as I mentioned to a slight extent, but that’s far different from prolonged operations). You’ll have to juggle training people to switch from one airframe type to another, including learning how to operate it in traditional theatres of operations before even considering operating it in a… Read more »

Last edited 3 days ago by Lusty
AlexS
AlexS
3 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Yeah, my point about Russian Federation certification i forgot to add is that should be prepared for harsh weather of Antarctic.

Lusty
Lusty
3 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

That’s a fair point, and it’s of course supported in the prose here. Perhaps it’s only something someone like me could hope for, but it’s something I’d like to see restored.

Johan
Johan
2 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Its one of the design elements to be Navalised, folding rotors and alike as it makes them easier to air transport.
i never knew a puma wont fit in a herc,

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago

What is more important.

A. Getting the numbers needed to replace Puma, and whatever else is replaced. ( in effect, cuts, they use the term rationalise )

B. Home build.

I fear a Westand option results in half the helicopters we need at several times the cost.

Have the military actually expressed a desire for a particular type of will they end up with what they’re given?

Reaper
Reaper
4 days ago

And decades to build…

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

To be honest it’s new but proven design so as long as the MOD don’t piss around with changing the whole thing it’s simply a matter of moving the production line from Italy to the U.K.

Grant
Grant
4 days ago

At a strategic level we should agree what its important we maintain sovereign capability and where we are happy to import. People feel very strongly about Navantia potentially building the FSS, but we have a sovereign ship building capability for complex warfare vessels so does it matter? What jobs are worth more? I actually think we would be better investing in UUVs and similar kit for the T26s then the T31 job creation scheme. I dont think its that important we make armoured vehicles as they dont give us a warfighting edge. I think its critical we build Tempest and… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Grant

The thing is where do you think most of our UUVs will be developed and built. In Yeovil at the Westland site, so this is as much about future sovereign capability as a medium lift rotor and the industrial benefits coming back into the U.K. and not being given to another nation.

Grant
Grant
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Overall I agree. It would be very sad if our ability to design and build helicopters disappeared.

Similar to the ship building strategy we should try and remove boom and bust and build these AW149s and then more Merlins to augment and replace the 55 we currently have.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Grant

Yes we really do need to actually have a plan around out military industrial complex. Nations that don’t produce don’t win.

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Exactly,, If there was an award for procrastination, Britain would win hands down everytime

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Grant

A balanced argument there.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 days ago

As this is predominantly an Italian existing Leonardo helicopter then one presumes that their knowhow would be brought to bear on producing it efficiently here as long as the MoD aren’t given Carte Blanche to endlessly re design it anyway. This is important to them because it gives an opportunity to sell this new member of this proven family of helicopters widely worldwide many of which are also promised for this production line. I can’t imagine Leonardo would simply allow those sort of issues to become the norm any more than Nissan or Toyota would accept mediocrity in the production… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
4 days ago

Not seen anything about there preference, but hope whichever it is it has a navalised option built into the contract.
Choice A would get my vote, this is in effect an intrim buy to get us to mid 30’s when the future US helicopters start coming online, and Airbus has something to throw in the ring.

Douglas Newell
Douglas Newell
4 days ago

There are many benefits for home build that make buying cheaper foreign products a false economy. Rather than say, £5bn, being sent off to Boeing in the US or Eurocopter in the Eurostate, and vanishing from the UK forever. £5bn being spent in the UK manufacturing the helicopters is accelerated many times through the economy via direct suppliers and employee consumer spending, generating jobs (so less benefits being paid), tax being paid by both employees and supplier organisations, and important skills retained in country. Where there is a decent UK built option it should be selected as a matter of… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago
Reply to  Douglas Newell

I appreciate the benefits. I fear what the military and up with numbers wise.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago

I always believe the benefits to the tax base should be removed from the cost equation. It’s bonkers that 5 billion spend on a U.K. product that feeds 50% back into the tax base is consider the same as say 5 billion spent in the US. The reality is we should allow that extra 2.5 billion put back in the tax base to spend on defence again. its the same with the NHS, our biggest Expense is our wage bill and once you take into consideration the employers NI payments, tax Employee IN and pension payments ( the nhs is… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Can’t remember if it was Def Sec or Chancellor but that change has been made and announced.

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago

I’m with you Daniele, on the face of it, it does look like a very good helicopter, providing the Mod don’t decide to gold plate it and add as many bells and whistles as possible …. Then only order 30 and we end up with a hugely expensive and very late helicopter that’s too expensive to sell overseas in quantity Cough, cough, Wildcat, cough! It looks too fragile and high tech to me, shades of Merlin, too easily broken…… What’s needed is a quality and reliable Helo like the latest version of Blackhawk, all the bells and whistles already available… Read more »

geoff
geoff
4 days ago

Morning Daniele

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  geoff

Morning my friend.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
4 days ago
Reply to  Douglas Newell

Agree, great summary of the benefits to wider society for UK ordered and paid for = UK built and manufactured.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

So very yes. No taxpayer funded spending should go to foreign companies unless the loss of tax base and cost is out weighed by the cost of the British products, and as a huge percentage of anything purchased and made in the U.K. goes back to the tax base is unlikely that it’s actually cheap to by the cheap US stuff etc.

geoff
geoff
4 days ago
Reply to  Douglas Newell

Well said Douglas. Some segments of first year Economics should be compulsory reading for Politicians-especially regarding the multiplier effect and the concept of contribution to overheads, along with all the other benefits you mention.

Steve R
Steve R
3 days ago

Maybe just me being hopefull but if we’re replacing 4 types of helicopter with one, that should allow for some economy of scale to reduce per-airfame cost, hopefully enabling us to at least replace on a one for one, if not expand numbers a little.

Alart from Puma, what other helicopters will these be replacing?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Reportedly, Griffons in use by the army and RAF, and Dauphins.
Also read Gazelle but unsure.

Lusty
Lusty
2 days ago

I’ve also read that yet another thing protector is replacing is the Gazelles. Some sources have been as clear as mud! I would say Dauphin/Puma/Griffin (both types), but then again, Dauphin is still relatively young and I assume it would be the last type to leave service. The single AW109 that’s in service currently is also young, and I assume it would remain in service due to some commonalities. It seems that many publications and sources agree with the notion of Dauphin/Puma/Griffin. If that’s the case, we’re looking at ~37-39 airframes (depending on how you count it). Not quite the… Read more »

Reaper
Reaper
4 days ago

How many medium choppers do we actually need, anyone?

James H
James H
4 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

A lot more then we have now if we want dispersed forces across the world.
Plus basing them in Cyprus, Belize, Brunei, its probably around 60 needed but we will probably get 30

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago
Reply to  James H

84 Sqn at Akroriri with i think 3 Bell. 7 Flight Brunei with Bell. 657 has 6 Dauphin. Surprised they are being replaced as obviously have specialised fit for their role.
At least 40 so 33 and 230 can have 12 each.
Like others said, I fear we end up with 30.
Unaware this replaces Gazelle? Thought a COMO was going to replace the few left.

Joe16
Joe16
4 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Interesting question, I think there’s something in the region of 40 Puma, if memory serves? Then, it depends on both their availability and utilisation- something I don’t have numbers on.
Personally, I would replace the AAC Wildcats with them too, as I don’t see the point in a battlefield “utility” helicopter that can only transport 6 passengers (especially as the British army doesn’t split into 6s) and has no hardpoints for anything other than a door gun. May as well consolidate down to fewer types.

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Yeah Wildcats are a waste if they are not for combat.

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

The Army Wildcats are at present unarmed, except for defensive door guns. No plans to add any weapon systems in the foreseeable future either Alex….

Their wartime roll is to act as a scout, so fly forward until they are shot down, thus showing where the enemy are, the glorious ’20 minuters’ strike again!

Still, they look nice and I suppose that’s something!

Joe16
Joe16
3 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Quite, I very strongly feel that their current role could be split between UAVs (for scout) and a medium lift helicopter (battlefield utililty/transport) with zero loss of capability, and probably greater capability.

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

There were about 40 Puma 1s, but only 24 got upgraded to Puma 2. This was due to the serviceability of the aircraft, but importantly the condition of the top deck the gearbox is mounted on. A lot of them through age were on the limit, so with more powerful engines the additional torque couldn’t have been coped with. It would have been too expensive to build new top decks for the remaining cabs.

Joe16
Joe16
3 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Only 24?! That’s a surprisingly small number…
Reinforces my opinion that we replace Wildcat Mk1 in the AAC with the replacement medium lift helo, to ensure we get enough airframes for economy of scale.

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Won’t happen old boy, due the RAF/AAC helicopter weight split rule. Which I believe is about 3500kg. Anything above is RAF anything below is Army. This rule was introduced in the early 1950’s so could probably be got rid of or updated, as the Wildcat is pretty close to the threshold. Although the Apache is an exception to the rule, as its seen by the Army as a direct support system.

Joe16
Joe16
4 minutes ago
Reply to  Daveyb

That definitely sounds like a rule that could be torn up or reshaped a little… I understand that the Joint Helicopter Force hasn’t always seemed like it works well, but I’d put everything in the pot and have joint operation and maintenance- similar to how we’re managing the F-35B fleet. Army and RAF aircrew and ground crew have opportunities to fly and deploy as required. I think it might be a bit tricky to fold the RN into that too, due to the longer / more regular overseas deployment on vessels, but I still think it’d be a more efficient… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Yes agree using the wildcat as a utility rotor is a bit bonkers it’s designed as a naval rotor for attack and reconnaissance, giving the whole lot to the navy would make sense and allow the army to get the medium rotor it needs.

Joe16
Joe16
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I understand there are differences in the “maritimisation” of the AAC airframes, but not clear on how extensive nor how expensive it would be to rework. Broadly speaking, I still think it will be a help to the RN.

Steve M
Steve M
3 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

If the basic controls and handling are the same the RN could use them for flight training at Yeovilton free up full spec for all the extra ships we will get 😋

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

It would be no different to the marinization of the RAF Merlins when they were handed over to the FAA. Fitting of folding blades and tail, plus the replacement of the electrical connectors for salt water resistance along with internal slat water resistant coatings and sealant.

The navalised version of the Wildcat only has the folding rotors, so some cost will be saved there. But it is easily doable.

Joe16
Joe16
1 minute ago
Reply to  Daveyb

That sounds a lot simpler and cheaper than I was led to believe previously. Definitely do that! Even if a bunch end up as spares, that would give the RN sufficient mass for at least one of their vehicle/vessel fleets!

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

I think the Army would be delighted if the Wildcat could carry Six Joe, it’s unfortunately only 4 mate, unless you are including the pilot and co- pilot!

A pointless and hugely expensive political procurement.

The Generals would be furious anyway, the Wildcats provide an extremely important VIP taxi roll🤣🤣😂

Joe16
Joe16
3 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Only 4?! ridiculous…
The generals can do what the US generals do- ride in the same bus that everyone else uses…

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Can you remember in Afghanistan the Army brass complaining about having to use US choppers for their ‘morale boosting’ visits to HQ’s and FOBS. Then it came out that our choppers were using up over a third of there flying hours on those ‘Photo Ops’ Serious question I’ve never heard asked is whether anyone died because the choppers were busy flying them around.

James F
James F
4 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Army wants 45. Currently 23 Pumas, 12 B212 and 3 B412s and one A109 in service as well as 5 Dauphins operated by SF (and a couple more by FOST).

Joe16
Joe16
4 days ago

Good news, I’m not sure how they compare to the Airbus H175, but I understand they’re roughly similar. Will be interesting to see how much UK build there will be in comparing the two.
Anyone know if there’s a possibility of a RR tie-in for engine, or if RR even do helicopter engines these days..?!

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

I doubt it, the Italian built ‘Merlin’ with the fancy operatic name that defeats me has gone over to US engines, I don’t think it’s an area RR can compete in now, not sure about their American built products mind but even if they do then they wouldn’t make a difference here.

ATH
ATH
4 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

They don’t in the U.K. There US operation Allison is big in small helicopter engines.
RR were involved in the Merlin engine but sold out its share some time ago.

Grant
Grant
4 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

The RTM Engines in the Merlin were a joint RR Turbomeca product. RR was brought put by Safran and these engines are the “Anetto”. Later Merlins (not ours) have CT7s. The A149 is certified with CT7s and Anettos so theoretically you could standardise on one engine across the two fleets (especially if the Government did the logical thing and replaced our ageing Merlins with new ones, rather than waiting about for the US FVL product which will be too expensive and not necessary for us)

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

They are very similar, it depends on the engines fitted. The H175 was predominantly designed to support the oil and gas industry. Whereas the AW149 was designed as a para-military aircraft. You can see this through the design of the cabin sliding doors. The H175’s sliding doors are smaller in width than the AW149. Which means when loading and unloading rapidly it’s more of a jostle. As an aside China have already bought some H175s and are looking to licence produce it. Both Leonardo and Airbus have said that the new aircraft will be built in the UK. Also if… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
14 minutes ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I have taken trips offshore in the H175, it’s nice but way more cramped than the S92s and even the EC225s. Maybe that’s just the way they decided to arrange the seats to cram more people in, but it makes Ryanair seem positively roomy! Unless they change the doors, AW149 seems the better shout- it’s hard enough getting in and out of the H175 without military gear hanging off you. Maybe leave RR to focus on their other projects, just thought that efficient turbines that could be used for Helos and maybe even future tilt rotor / hybrid rotary aircraft… Read more »

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
4 days ago

Looks like a jazzed up Lynx on steroids. I do however get the point thats its about the machines ability and capability rather than aesthetics.

Just by the by … why so many windows? Surely that means higher design and production cost?

Don’t see a tail ramp … wrong camera angle maybe? Don’t see a sliding side door … isn’t that a must for helicopters without a tail ramp?

Ahh hold on now … maybe it’s just a picture of a model kit … Airfix 1/72 scale Clusterfluck IIIIV. 😶

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

It has a sliding door.

You can see the civilian variant AW 189 of HM Coast Guard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU_jWWgSi8g

Showing flight manoeuvres
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YjHKGIVVqY

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

I’m not sure we have seen a true military version yet I reckon that’s just based on the commercial configuration Khakied up but hey maybe the troops appreciate the view.

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

There are videos in Youtube of Thailand AW 149 version, but they are not armed.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Thailand and Egypt have them in service, it’s certification for military use was in 2014.

its a very spacious medium rotor that’s very good at crashing, like all modern military rotors ( walking away is very much more likely than say from a Blackhawk).

James Fennell
James Fennell
3 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

The 149 is a military version of the A139 and already in service. Leonardo have been using an A139 as a demonstrator in the UK, as it is already made in Yeovil and has UK specified avionics (they are used by HM Coastguard).

Last edited 3 days ago by James Fennell
AlexS
AlexS
3 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

No. AW149 is a ground up military version, that spun Aw 189 as civilian version.
AW 139 is lighter than Aw 149 and was militarised from civilian version.

Lusty
Lusty
4 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Ramp – no.

Doors – yes.

Windows – to give the crabs a nice view.😂

There’s also the potential to fit wings (a la Wildcat) to allow for the integration of additional weaponry. I assume this might not be an option for the requirement… at least, not yet.

Last edited 4 days ago by Lusty
Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Windows are nice… Especially when you ditch and you are fighting tooth and nail with everyone else to get through one and out of an upside down waterfilled cabin in the pitch black.

Dunker training!

Lusty
Lusty
3 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

-shudders-

Dunker always made me reflect on the poor folk who couldn’t ever get out.

David Steeper
David Steeper
4 days ago

Well it looks like a choice of this and keep Yeovil open or something else like Blackhawk and see it close. Anyone else concerned that Leonardo know that and will charge accordingly ?

Last edited 4 days ago by David Steeper
Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Always that risk I guess but as they have claimed Yeovil built craft will be exported elsewhere then that might shoot them in the foot when pushing for those orders. I can’t help but think about what’s going to happen in the realm of electric drones or copters over the next decade and beyond and think upon the potential loss of a facility and associated expertise that just might be very useful to us over time not to mention the developments around spaceport down there and who knows what facilities might come in useful as a manufacturing base. Would be… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
4 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Agree just hope Leonardo don’t push their luck on price, support etc. It’s the old problem of one domestic supplier.

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago

Can AW149 realistically replace Puma, Merlin HC3 and Wildcat AH1?

David Steeper
David Steeper
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Not Merlin prob not Wildcat so really it’s just Puma.

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

It depends for what Merlin is supposed to do, if it is only troop transport yes.

Another thing to look for that is usually not talked about are the mission rates.

Last edited 4 days ago by AlexS
Deep32
Deep32
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Its supposed to replace 4 current in service types, Puma, Gazelle, Dauphin and some Bell varients.That is a wide weight range they are replacing. Gazelle being the smallest and Puma the largest. Not sure exact numbers that are being replaced, somewhere between 40- 60 at a guess.
The French are doing something similar but replacing greater numbers, they have gone for a slightly smaller helo, H165 I think and are due to get some 170ish over the next decade or so.

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

There is also available smaller models
AW 169 4.8t
AW 139 7t the biggest success with more than 1100 sold

AW 149 8.5 t

Deep32
Deep32
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Yes, but I think we will only be getting the one model, whatever that is! To replace a range from Gazelle 1.8t – Puma 7t. Not really sure that this is a case of one size fits all! I get the idea that money is saved by having one type, but the size difference and functions are wide apart, so we will be effectively cutting some capability to standardise one the one aircraft type – my thoughts only. Also cant see us replacing the numbers we retire with new on a like for like basis, we will get fewer then… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
4 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Sorry, H160 is the French Helo.

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Definitely not Merlin as its OSD for both the HM2 and HC4 has been pushed to 2040. This is primarily a RAF project to replace its medium lift capability. Although there have been rumours that it may also replace the Bell 212 and Griffin.

The H175 and AW149 are not battlefield taxis nor reconnaissance aircraft like the Wildcat. If there is an AAC aircraft that does need replacing sooner rather than later its the Gazelle.

Deep32
Deep32
4 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The French are doing something similar, but have opted for the H160 (M version) to replace 5 types, although the numbers involved are far greater then what we are planning on doing.
Obviously this is money driven, but, we would surely have been better off capability wise if we had gone foe 2 options, one for the smaller aircraft ie Gazelle and one for the Puma replacement!

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Thx All for the replies.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

The merlin was always a bit of a bad fit as a medium rotor, it’s really pushing the definition. That’s why it’s the best ASW rotor around, it’s bloody huge.

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
4 days ago

Leonardo will be really pushing this as they want a major European military order for the AW149 (the only other major order so far has been with the Egyptian Navy) and its obviously important for Yeovil. After the political fallout with the HC2 Puma’s being rebuilt in Romania, Airbus is pushing a westernised H175M. Bell seem to be pitching Blackhawks built in Poland which is almost certainly a non-starter politically, bearing in mind the contract will require a high degree of UK-based manufacture/assembly, through life fleet support and maintenance too. TBH the competition will almost certainly end up being and… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago

Civilian version AW 189 have been much more successful.

But the AW 139 that arrived first took many orders: +1100 helicopters sold.

AW 139 is 7t while AW 149 is 8.5t so there is a lot overlap that benefits the smaller model.

Last edited 4 days ago by AlexS
Andy a
Andy a
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

What about the as565? I don’t know much about helicopters

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy a

It is a Lynx(now Wildcat) equivalent.

Mark
Mark
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Isn’t the us airforce buying new 139 for grey wolf? What’s the difference between a 139&179?

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Yes they are.
There is no 179 in my post above. What is the correct number you meant?

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Mark

If you mean 139 and 149

There are 2 significant differences:

149 is 8.5t while 139 is 7t , so bigger

149 project is military build from the ground, 139 is militarised – that said being militarised did not prevented 139 being sold to many armed forces.

Mark
Mark
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Apologies I’m terrible at txting on my phone(brain and fingers out of sync).
I was referring to the aw149.
Also if we wanted a medium lift helo for troops and all why not new Merlin’s are they overly expensive and high maintenance?

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Yes and yes. Merlin is a 3 engine helicopter with corresponded complex gearbox and obviously cost including operating cost. You can call it a luxury helicopter and also a bit old a project from 1980’s (Agusta+Westland).
It is almost double the weight of Aw 149. It is a too big helicopter with 25 to 30 troops capability.

Aw 189 the civilian variant of Aw 149 is in service with HM Coast Guard including in Falklands, you can check videos in Youtube.

Mark
Mark
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Excellent response thank you, with the new acquisition of and up grade of existing Chinooks can see things going in right direction also. Hope the AW149 get chosen as 1 of the partnerships is a local company to me with a long history of engineering excellence and my Grandfather worked there after the war. My only concern is using a civilian designed airframe that’s was probably designed to be made from composite materials for lightweightness and not built up to be a rugged fly jeep like a blackhawk or bells 412epx.

AlexS
AlexS
3 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Aw 149 is not a civilian designed airframe.
Aw 139 is.

Mark
Mark
3 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Cheers just found this out…looks and sounds like a very capable helo..
https://www.leonardocompany.com/en/products/aw149

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
4 days ago

Almost looks like a stretched Sea Sprite … still a shite design though.

Steve R
Steve R
3 days ago

Could the AW149 replace the Merlin as well as all the others it’s due to replace? Just thinking in terms of economy of scale and a single airframe type being cheaper to procire and maintain.

Or would it not be a viable replacement for Merlin?

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

No, it’s too small for the roles envisioned for the Merlin in both ASW and Commando support. In a Merlin you can fit an extra internal fuel tank in the cabin and still have room for 20 bods. The additional fuel can give it an endurance of 6 hours. If you did the same with the AW149 you would only be able to carry half the number of bods. As a size and role comparison I would look at the V22 Osprey, as it has a similar troop capacity. The AW149 is more in keeping with a Blackhawk or a… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
3 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Merlin can sling 5t , Aw 149 can sling 2.7t. Is there >2.7t weight to viable sling in UK Armed Forces? Considering that there is also Chinook.

We just don’t know the answer.
But i think Merlins were extended to 2040. Where only the Navy ones?

AlexS
AlexS
3 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Correction. Were only the Navy ones?

Lusty
Lusty
8 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

They’re all operated by the RN now. I believe the plan is to use both types until 2040.

It makes me wonder if they’ll bring back some of the mothballed airframes to replace those that have been heavily used.

Johan
Johan
2 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

No, Merlin is classed as a heavy lift, it didn’t fit the RAFs needs hence why they were moved over to the FAA. Merlin’s end of life is another 10+ years away .
The Medium lift where this sits disposes of 4 mixed platforms of various companies and makes more sense.
need to be clever.

Johan
Johan
2 days ago

Cannot help think that this and the NH90 allways look like they forgot to fit something and just bolt it onto the outside. and looks like if you treated them hard they would fold in 2.

Johan
Johan
2 days ago

With our new based Australian agreement, The Australian Army has 49 Blackhawk Airframes, 27 airworthy, and a huge pile of spares and engines. now they are 33 years old.
but imagine refurbing and upgrading these in the UK and better option than these modified passengers cabin cruisers