The Ministry of Defence is looking to buy up to 44 New Medium Helicopters (NMH) to replace existing helicopters.

The plan is to replace the existing fleet of Westland Puma HC2, Bell 412 Griffin and some other helicopter types with one type, the New Medium Helicopter, say the British Army. It is understood that the helicopters will be operated jointly by the Army and RAF under Joint Helicopter Command.

According to a news release:

“The announcement was made in the Defence Command Paper. It will form part of the Army’s programme of transformation, Future Soldier, which will deliver an Army that is leaner, lighter, faster to respond, and more effectively matched to current and future threats. The New Medium Helicopter Programme will see four of the medium-sized helicopters currently in service across Defence replaced by one new helicopter. This will include the Bell 212 that is used by the Army Air Corps in the jungle areas of Brunei.”

The scope of the contract will also include the provision of training capabilities and a maintenance/spares package as well as design organisation scope.

The purpose of the contract notice, say the Ministry of Defence, is to invite potential and interested suppliers to formally express interest in participating.

Here are the specifics, according to the contract tender notice

The high-level requirement for this procurement consists of:

i. A range of up to 44 platforms.

ii. Design Organisation integration services for Government Furnished Assets (GFA) and Mission Role Equipment (MRE).

iii. Up to 2 x aircrew and rearcrew Flight Simulation Training Devices (FSTD) at the UK Main Operating Base (MOB).

iv. Training courses for Qualified Helicopter Instructors (QHIs), aircrew and groundcrew maintainers.

v. Courseware material for enduring aircrew and maintainer training.

vi. An Initial In-Service Support Package, to include:

• Initial Provisioning Spares.
• Deployed Support Packages (DSPs).
• Ground Support Equipment and Specialist Tooling.
• Technical Publications and Aircrew Publications.
• Logistics (Spares) Management.
• Forward and Depth Maintenance.
• Design Organisation (DO) modifications and technical support.

The Ministry of Defence say that the ‘New Medium Helicopter’ intends to rationalise its existing multiple rotary-wing requirements into one platform.

“NMH will provide a common medium-lift multi-role helicopter, fitted for, but not with, specialist Mission Role Equipment (MRE) and able to operate in all environments in support of defence tasks.”

Any other information?

According to the contract tender, the Ministry of Defence “anticipates that there may be a requirement to procure additional work through this contract”.

Additionally, the contract duration is anticipated to be 7 years (as referred to in section II.3) but “will be determined by the agreed production schedule that will reflect the supplier’s ability to complete delivery of aircraft and an initial support phase”.

The support solution duration is anticipated to be approximately 5 years from the first aircraft delivery, taking into consideration the manufacturer’s delivery schedule, or until aircraft production is complete, whichever is later, according to the tender.

Training services will commence prior to first aircraft delivery to support entry into service.

What are the options?

These four have been offered by their manufacturers.

Airbus Helicopters H175M

Photo Ronnie Robertson, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Airbus Helicopters has indicated that it will offer a military version of the H175, designated as the H175M. It would be manufactured at Airbus’s Broughton facility located at Hawarden Airport in Wales.

Bell 525 Relentless

Photo Zane Adams, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

American manufacturer Bell Textron indicated in February 2022 that it intends on offering the Bell 525 Relentless.

Leonardo AW149

Photo Gian Marco Anzellotti from Roma, Italia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leonardo intends on offering the AW149. Leonardo said in a 2022 press release that Yeovil will act as a ‘final assembly facility’.

Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk

Photo Jerry Gunner from Lincoln, UK, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sikorsky has indicated it expects the latest generation of the S-70M to meet the requirement. It is understood that the firm plan to assemble the aircraft in their factory PZL Mielec in Poland.

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 works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago

S0, Airbus H175M it is then, made in Wales. Boxes ticked.

Jack
Jack
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

Lets hope its not another AJAX.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

I doubt it it looks like it has all the Vim required in such a platform… well 99.9% anyway.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

No, it won’t be. It will be supplied by a proper company that knows what it is doing.

Grant
Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

The H175 was actually a joint venture with CAIC of China, Airbus said they are doing the work to take out all of the Chinese components, but would be the worst option. They will largely be final assembly so no design skills either…

Zaphod
Zaphod
1 month ago
Reply to  Grant

As is the latest offering from Leonardo.

The difference is that Airbus hasn’t broken quite so many promises in the past.

https://uk.leonardocompany.com/en/news-and-stories-detail/-/detail/aw149-skills-sharing

Grant
Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Zaphod

It’s more the Chinese content I would be concerned about. What can we expect, the Government would rather buy American kit then domestic (see latest Apache purchase) and should really be ordering additional and replacement Merlins but they are trying to do a ‘me to’ with the yanks on exotic tilt rotor aircraft which will be unaffordable and probably not suitable to our needs. In the background why would Leonardo invest here? As with ships we should be looking at a regular drumbeat of orders or accept we won’t have domestic helicopter production. What we are doing seems to be… Read more »

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Grant

PMSL Not possible like much of the current aviation industry and i quote from a French based company. 75% of its electrical switch gear and controls includes parts made in china. assembled in different European countries, so then becomes a complete part made in the EU.

stevethemanc
stevethemanc
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

Whitehall party game, preferably played whilst naked and blindfolded. Who can think of a new way of robbing the British taxpayer of billions of pounds that we then give to our friends, while the public carry on thinking that we are doing them a favour.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
1 month ago

There’s only one serious contender here, isn’t there?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

It depends on what the ‘contending’ is?

Is it to

  • T31 style deliver to a fixed budget; or
  • is it Ajax style to bust the budget

I suppose the question is UK prepared to take a COTS solution as is and say here is the budget now deliver it. Get paid when done as is any commercial contract?

Or are we going to get sucked into the usual well worn routine of ‘optimisation’, ‘refinement’ and ‘gold plating’?

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

I’m sorry but how can you possible expect the army to buy of a shelf stocked with so many proven solutions. None of these will have the correct boiling water device installed and all will lack sufficient power for the heavy armour required in 25 years time. Clearly the only solution is to take an existing proven design and spend several billion f**king/future proofing it up.

Jack
Jack
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Why can’t i “like” your comment ? 👍 That’ll have to do.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

I think voting on posts was a brief experiment a few years ago, long stopped.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

It will need tracks as well as…..and a hotel booking system for the RAF.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago

Yes, Blackhawk

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
1 month ago

Why can’t Merlin be in the running?
Surely offers far more cost savings as being an existing platform.
My opinion on those shown is blackhawk is surely too old a platform, and the others just look commercial to be military.

Talon
Talon
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

The Merlin is a heavy lift helicopter. This procurement is for something more lightweight

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Talon

We could have gone something NH90 like back in the day and used it to replace everything but the MOD thought having a medium light medium medium and medium heavy lift helicopter fleets was a much better idea.

OldSchool
OldSchool
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Australia has ditched their version of NH90s I believe. Getting UH-60M Blackhawks instead. I think that says something.

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago
Reply to  OldSchool

That and I believe Sweden and even a few others bought Black hawks to fill in roles for the NH90 because it was over promised under delivered. Black hawk might no the the prettiest bird in the air, It might be yank, But it works and the knowledge base, costs, and just global supply chain for it makes it a safe bet for an aircraft you know will do what it promises to do.

Ambivalant Lurker
Ambivalant Lurker
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Frankly, anything other than NH90 is a much better idea…So good the Australians are replacing theirs with new Blackhawks that their NH90’s were originally replaced!

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

You have to ask, why the Australians have decided to replace the NH90’s with Blackhawk’s…

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Because it’s a pile of steaming pup that’s why Australia is dumping them as fast as it contractually can, along go with the equally poor Tiger….

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

I like the NH90, but it does seem expensive to run.

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

NH90 Has some serious issues with running costs per mile, a lot of users are cutting is inflight hours. Australia has back tracked and gone back to Black Hawk

Wayne
Wayne
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

NH90 has failed to meet requirements in Australia so No! for some reason Australia is going for the Blackhawk, another bad idea, but let the users decide they should know what they want.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Talon

Chinook is heavy lift, Merlin is medium lift. This procurement is for Medium lift.

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Merlin is a Heavy lift, why the RAF Dumped it didn’t need its capacity.
Merlin out of service date is 2030.??

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

Chinook is heavy lift. The RAF described the Merlin HC3/3A as a medium support helicopter, although I agree that it carried far more payload than Puma. Maybe Merlin was Medium+, rather than Heavy. Why would the RAF suddenly not need the capacity of a transport helicopter? It was surely because the RN need was greater. In 2012, the RAF’s Merlin HC3/3A fleet began to be transferred to the RN for use by the Commando Helicopter Force, due (I believe) to the demise of the Sea King. Wikipedia: “The Merlin HC3 replaced the ageing Sea King HC4 as CHF’s medium-lift transport… Read more »

Frank Smith
Frank Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Talon

Aw149 is a fully genuine military design. AW189, its civilian brother, has been derived from AW149.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Merlin is massively expensive to procure and maintain.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
1 month ago

My point being in that we have crews already trained, spare parts being available. In the long run, especially for having small numbers in numerous types it’ll be far cheaper to have a larger single type

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago

Haven’t we already procured Merlin?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Yes of course.

But it is for high load / high endurance use.

The design is a pain from a maintenance point of view particularly wrt gearbox maintenance hours.

It is a great platform but totally overkill for medium cab.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

I alwasy through Merlins were supposed to replace Sea Kings and Puma’s which is why RAF got them in first place! would make much more sense for everyone, simpler supply lines. all ground forces would only have 2 types to have to be trained in for enplanning/deplanning.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

If anything, Merlin replaced Wessex in the RAF.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
1 month ago

Wessex was such an amazing design, I can remember my father and myself building airfix models way back when

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Yes, 60 Sqn operated the type at Benson alongside the Puma force from 92 on.

Andy thomson
Andy thomson
1 month ago

28 Sqn in Hong Kong till handover in 1997and 84 Sqn in Cyprus, through to after 2000 when I left, both Wessex Sqns.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago

That was even smaller lol, Merlin is listed as Medium lift Helo, ther puma carrys 12(16 if you put centre seats across door which restricts access) the Original Lynx used to carry 8, so why do new improved (wildcat) only carry 6 not even a squad. Merlin can carry full platoon

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

wild cat has a 3rd crew station in the rear.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

I get it would be nice to have options for different airframes etc but with our purchase history if surely makes sense to streamline. Merlin might be slightly large for the intended role and more expensive but can take a heck of a lot more damage than a converted commercial type, and offers plenty of redundancies and options going forward. If the army wants smaller helos then what’s wildcat for just order more of those (although personally they should be for the navy too)

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

This is for battlefield lift. Wildcat is crap for that, beings used as a recc asset primarily in support of the Apache force.

Wildcat is already operated by the FAA as the HMA2 and successor to Lynx and could do with more.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

It is a shame the Wildcat did not get the foot longer cabin of the Lynx 3/civil 606 prototypes.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

The Merlin is a glass jawed aircraft. By that I mean it cannot take small arms damage without needing a lengthy maintenance period to repair it. The reason is the upper fuselage is composite, which was used to safe weight. But is an absolute bitch to repair with full integrity. Case point is its performance whilst in Afghan. An aircraft would be off the flight line from 4 to 6 weeks awaiting skin repairs due to small arms damage. As the damage had to be assessed by Yeovil, who then produced a work plan to repair it. This meant the… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

That’s why we need Blackhawk, relatively simple ( in comparison to the new converted civilian types on offer) and sturdy, easy to patch battle damage and back into the fight….

I had a mate who served a few tours in Iraq, he always laughed at the patchwork quilt US Army Blackhawks that had been in country for a while, tough as old boots and dependable, exactly what the forces need and a perfect complement to Chinook.

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Wildcat sort of replaces the Gazelle, as it has armoured protection.

and Wildcat should tell us all we need to know about buying wrong just because it has a UK STAMP

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

RAF dumped the Merlin Fleet for some reason, was never made clear but it was reported they wanted to upgrade the Chinook Fleet.
Merlin is to large to replace the planed types like a Puma, as Merlin is a good deal bigger than a Puma, for exmple a Merlin wont fit in a Herc c130. its to tall and needs 1000s of hours of stripping

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

Puma don’t fit in a Herc without being stripped down (i know i’ve done it)

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

It’s just to big, the merlin is huge, it’s more of a small heavy lift rotor that a medium rotor.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

The Merlin is too large, it has a similar footprint to the Chinook. It is not a battlefield support helicopter as it has a number of design flaws. It is perfect for ASW and for the assault role the Royals need.

Why is the Blackhawk out of the running? Especially as its the only combat proven airframe, has a massive spares and support package, plus gets constantly updated.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Why would Blackhawk be too old? Its a well proven design that just keeps on improving with age, plus of course it was designed from the outset as a Military Helicopter unlike the other commercial designs being put forward.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Not really a current platform though it’s produced in Italy and Americanised.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Well we can all agree to disagree. As I’ve stated surely the preference would be Merlin or wildcat, at the very least whomever gets selected it MUST be made in the UK so blackhawk is out of the running. I’m just not a fan of the “militarised” commercial types being pushed, how much damage and redundancy does it offer over Merlin or blackhawk? All we want is the best equipment for our personnel at the best price and UK industry input to grow the economy but I’m sure the MOD will faff it up as usual and pay twice for… Read more »

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

You missed the main point of the article. Airbus- assembled in Wales from EU PARTS. Leo – assembled in Yeovil from EU PARTS B/H- assembled in Poland from USA PARTS Bell- assembled in USA from USA PARTS. Zero UK Industry will be making any parts. 3 are oil rig busses, with carbon panels and lots of glass. Merlin Airframe on the crowsnest kept delaminating when stressed by the baggie, and Leonardo wrecked 3 airframes in the process and were 3 years late. i am all for giving our workers jobs, BUT here we go AJAX assembled in Wales from EU… Read more »

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Merlin is Heavy Lift, and this is more in a Medium Range. Merlin is now Built in Italy as Leonardo stripped the production out of yeovil.

Ares
Ares
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

That’s false, Aw101 are still heavily in production in yeovil for Norway and Poland aircraft

Jason
Jason
1 month ago

A no brainer Home made the only choice .

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason

Only if it is close to the best option performance wise. There is no point in buying a British made helicopter if it is useless…

TR
TR
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Oh silly boy, of course there is, lots of votes in it. Who cares if it works (in the optomistic scenario of it actually being delivered before it becomes obselete)

Paul Puplett
Paul Puplett
1 month ago

I like Leonardo as they are use for heilmed and coastguard. So are know for being stuff machines and easy to get in small places

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

I guess the favourite would be Leonardo because of Yeovil. I hope not though. Leonardo have gutted the factory at Yeovil inspite of all promises to the contrary when they took over Westland. Politicians need the courage to call their bluff if they threaten to close it down if they don’t get preferential treatment on MoD contracts. My personal preference would be all other things considered the S70 but that would be because of our burgeoning defence relationship with Poland. As to who should win the contract. I hope the helo that best fulfills the criteria at the lowest capital… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yep David, bound to be the Yeovil 149, I would put money on it at a staggering unit price, I would bet my house on it. As others have pointed out previously, new technologies are just over the horizon and will probably be fielded in 10 years or so, so why not just buy 50 refubished ex US Army Blackhawks, to use for all the medium helo requirements, including the current leased fleet. You could probably buy the lot, with spares and support for the price of 10 149’s, plus saving the cost of new lease arrangements, billions saved… I… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Yep on Blackhawk but i’m more optimistic on Leonardo. They’re riding for a fall and have been for a long time. I think this will be when it finally happens.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Great idea but refurbed Blackhawks can’t be bought unless either someone offers them or the MoD puts out a RFQ/modified tender. Both seem unlikely unless Sikorsky sees that it has lost and tries to upend the tender with a low bid perhaps refurbed in Poland. The howls and threats from the other bidders would be considerable.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

haven’t Sikorsky already offered refurbs in uk. If we could get 100 refurbs for this price or 50 for half that would surely be a win / win. Especially if we can negotiate a buy back up front for the future lift at a sensible price (ie the same price as the USAF with no uplift) Perhaps then we can get them to take over Yeovil or build a line in the UK. with the money saved we can buy a load of loitering munitions, drones (UK designed and built) and Seibel s100’s for the RN. applying a £500m save… Read more »

Darren hall
Darren hall
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

My only issue with what you are saying is… ” far too sensible”

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Darren hall

The new technologies will be expensive and there is no experience with that so it is contradictory with “staggering cost” concerns.. If we talk about V-280 and the Defiant.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yep David, bound to be the Yeovil 149, I would put money on it at a staggering unit price, 

Why that bizarre assumption of staggering price unit?
The civilian sister AW 189 is in service with Bristow Helicopters in HM SAR service including in the Falklands. It is a known quantity if the MOD don’t ask for some gold plated thing.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Because the 149 has a price of $18 to $20 million per copy … That’s before the MOD have pissed about with it and turned it into an all singing, all dancing fragile composite $30 million helicopter that can’t be patched in the field and is rendered U/S by a few AK bullet holes…

Blackhawk, ready now at $ 6 million per copy, tough, upgraded, reliable, with a vast spares network to plug into.

It’s a total no brainer Alex ….

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Ridiculous. If you believe that you did not learn to distinguish data.

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale to Croatia of two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $115 million, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release.

This do not mean that each UH-60M costs 57.5M$ there are equipment, maybe a training simulator, replacement pieces etc.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Righto Alex, whatever, I see you are a committed to the Italian helicopter, despite people telling you the actual ‘facts’ of of operating with modern composite helicopters in combat environments..

You clearly regard keeping Waistlands operating at any cost as the solution … It’s the same mindset that got us the wonderful Ajax nightmare…

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Top of the Range all bells and whistles will set you back $26m lower specs go down to $6m.

Grant
Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

$6m for a Blackhawk! Right….
If only they had bought the Westland Black Hawk in the 90s… we’d of had a success on our hands like the sea king.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Grant

Absolutely……

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Main issue with the 3 OIL RIG Transports. they dont get shot at much, and if you look at the AW it has way to much bolted outside the airframe

Ares
Ares
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

That’s not all true, production is still very much happening in yeovil, with a huge site investment over the last few years. Aw101 is still bieng manufactured for Norway and Poland. Yes majority of parts are EU, but all the tooling and gse will be sourced from the UK supply base around the country. Nothing has really changed in yeovil apart from the name. Airbus will have to build the facility in Wales to support anyway. It would be a shame to loose the yeovil site considering the history and support of the mod. Roughly 4000 people are employed there,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Ares
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

“Up to”

🙄

JohnG
JohnG
1 month ago

Yes I saw that. Would be interesting to hear from any Helicopter enthusiasts how many they think we actually need and why.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  JohnG

Well I just look at the squadrons in the AAC and RAF that need the helicopter and look at their numbers and compare.

44 fills the requirement.

Not 20, not 30. That means cuts.

But an MP in Yeovil will be happy.

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago

I heard rumblings of H135s for a Gazelle replacement under Project Matcha. It was only a flghtglobal article, but have you also heard anything?

Source: https://www.flightglobal.com/helicopters/uk-selects-h135s-to-replace-british-armys-elderly-gazelle-helicopters/147273.article

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

Morning mate. I’ve read that same source, nothing more.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

what is Gazelle used for these days, surely we need to standardise and move up to Wildcat size or down and make it unmanned.

Really don’t think we should have another tiny class of helicopters.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

the other thing to say is there is a British helicopter firm (Hills) selling small commercial helicopters (5 persons) for £1m.

can this be used even though it is single engine…

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Blackhawk for me. I’d like something cheap enough to be purchased in the numbers needed for a role that does not need to be gold plated.

Otherwise I see yet another cut in numbers with 30 bought instead of 44.

Merlin is too heavy for this.

Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago

100% agree DM. It’s the smart decision and probably best value. Now let’s watch the MOD do exactly the opposite of this choice.

johan
johan
1 month ago

Logically and i regret to say Black Hawk is the best option, over 4000 made proven ready and upgradeable for what ever our forces require. in different roles. Leonardo stripped Yeovil and fudged the wildcat, and the Crows nest

we dont need Race Horses we Need Shire Horses. non are manufactured in the UK.

So forget the Horseshite and a local MP as the rest of the country are paying to keep 100 people employed.

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
1 month ago

It will be between the AW 149 and the Blackhawk.. bet on it.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago

I’m glad there’s going to be a full and proper tender process before the AW149 is selected…

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Absolutely nailed it Chris….

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Sounds about right Chris. I can’t see past it although I’ve no idea if its the best for the job.

TR
TR
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

It is vital that a clear and transparent specification is written and there if full and open competition in trying to match that specification of the AW 149 :-)!

nonsense
nonsense
1 month ago

Contract with the final candidate that has already been decided

dave12
dave12
1 month ago

Well if Yeovil does not get this contract that’s probably the end of the UK helicopter industry and all the small engineer companies in the chain , I find it very sad people support black hawk over the UK helicopter industry , dare I say they live in London area😉

lee1
lee1
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

Nope, I think you are wrong. The problem is that we can’t just support an industry for no good reason. If the Government were going to invest big numbers in a UK factory to produce a next generation homegrown helicopter I could fully support it. Otherwise we need to buy the best helicopter we can get our hands on and the Blackhawk is a great platform with proven battlefield performance. Blackhawk is designed as a battlefield helicopter. The other designs on offer are simply commercial platforms that have a bit of armour sellotaped on. If the AW149 proves to be… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Spot on….

nonsense
nonsense
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

a correct answer

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Yep, pretty much.

I believe the army has wanted BH for years.

Do politicians want to give the army what the army wants and needs or what their mates in the MIC want.

I suspect in almost every case the latter and politics decides.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Blackhawk under license ?

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

The AW149 is a military design with a civilian version, not the other way around like the Airbus and Bell.
Leonardo have also said that they would use Yeovil to fulfil export orders for the type too, which would give the volume production you talk about (or at least an opportunity for it). That’s why it’s my preference. ALthough I’m a bit concerned they’re only talking about assembly now, I thought it was proper fabrication etc….

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Issue is the AW149 is a dedicated Military design but is based on its little Brothers bones. so its not a true fighting unit, and composite panels are difficult to repair in field. the sales patter from Yeovil was full production. yet there are no longer any manufacturing capacity at Yeovil. they have swapped to the Airbus option of assembled @ from parts from other sources. if you remove this from the bid AW149 is no better than the Bell/ABus option. so we will have a USA or a French or Italian. i know who has given us better service… Read more »

Dave1
Dave1
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

You’re talking nonsense mate, go to yeovil and see for yourself. They’re currently manufacturing aw101 for Poland and Norway. Aw159 rad line and retrofit lynx. There’s still a lot of production happening, but the worry is if the 149 isn’t the winner, then a few years time the yeovil site will struggle big time. There is a huge amount of industry in the local area that support the place too.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Fully agree!

Expat
Expat
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

Now post that same comment when solid support ships tender is launched and see what’s happens.

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  lee1

agree.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

Either we want a UK-based military helicopter industry, which includes design, build and foreign sales, or we wave goodbye to the current albatross: a rump that only holds us back. The former will require a level of commitment far beyond replacing 44 medium-weight helicopters and I doubt the MoD has the money or the stomach for it.

Instead, give Yeovil Proteus to play with, the Navy’s requirement for a medium rotary drone. See if they can skunkworks a cheap offering.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

It might end the manned rotary aircraft industry, but the unmanned rotary aircraft industry – aka drones – is booming right now. Besides this is probably the last generation of helicopters anyway, tilt-rotors will undoubtedly replace them in future due to the inherent limitations on helicopters.

TR
TR
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

Bottom line is can Yeovil build cost effective, combat effective helicopters. If they can great. If they can’t then one more helicopter contract is unlikely to change that and even if it does put off the demise for a short period but 44 helicopters is not likely to change that. The british defence industry has taken vast amounts of money whilst producing small numbers of often flawed kit, late for decades. I dare say those people calling for what Yeovil produces to be selected nomatter what will not have to rely on it whilst being shot at.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  TR

Have Yeovil ever built a bad aircraft post war?

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

Wildcat is poor, Crows nest was 3 years late and is still flawed and they only upgraded systems from the Sea King Baggies. so Yes

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

Leonardo assist stripped Yeovil, all the parts for the AW Will be crated in from Italy and China.

Wildcat was a cock up, Crows nest was a cock up and 3 years late.
support our industry.

we don’t have one. all the profit heads to Italy.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

And may I ask whats your expertise ?

Damon
Damon
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

How is the wildcat poor? Its very well regarded. Crowsnest was a Lockheed Martin design which was well over engineered, not purely the fault of yeovil.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  Damon

Yes I wondering the same thing wildcat or Lynx is the fastest helicopter in the world and as you said well regarded , thats why I asked Johan what his expertise are on the wildcat.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

I still think it a shame, that Wildcat did not get the foot longer cabin of the Lynx 3/Westland 606 prototypes.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

perhaps this is an opportunity for Yeovil to move into unmanned aerial vehicles. Post Ukraine if we don’t Turkey will clean up on international orders. If we can start building drones and rotary drones at Yeovil perhaps that is a brighter future for those involved. Can we get a version of Taranis out there sub £5m? Can we build a version of the TB2 sub £2m? Can we build a scheibel S100 rotor UAV competitively? whether we like it or not Helicopters are probably not something the UK should build as we don’t have the mass to support. this may… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago

As we have now left the EU and this is a military contract cant we just select the Airbus option as assembled in UK.
Also 44 aircraft for £1 billion doesnt sound like great value for money. 44 is a low number for such a vast budget.

Angus
Angus
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Budget is actually £1.2 Billion for it and that works out at £27 Mil + per frame but of course that includes training, support equipment etc etc which will take a big chunk of that. The Army really only needs a 4 tonner in the sky not a Sports car. Needs to be durable and cheap to operate. But then those that make the decisions don’t really know whats truly needed. The Seaking could have been going on for years yet and did what the Boots needed and better than others by far.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

Does anyone know how many helicopters the 44 new ones will be replacing? Is it one for one?

Darren hall
Darren hall
1 month ago

44 Required…

Replacing 30ish Puma, 5 Bell 212s..
With speculation of the other 2 being the Bell 412 and the SF Dauphin…

So we will be getting more helicopters than what is currently in service…?
That will be nice…

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

Would it not make sense to lease some Blackhawks and jump onto the USA next-generation helicopter program a few years after they have come into service and bugs have been sorted? If so might there be some workshare opportunities?

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Spot on 👍🏻 though we may not need to lease any Blackhawks depending upon when the U.K. plans to replace existing helicopter and how fast the next generation comes into service in the USA… – I think they are due to choose between Valor or Defiant this year as the Black Hawk replacement.

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

Decision expected in September.

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

UK has signed onto the future helicopter program, this is just outside that window. but would like up with the Merlin OOS date on 2030.

Mazda6
Mazda6
1 month ago

Blackhawk makes sense. A mature platform with just about zero risk I’d say.

But they’ll select something made in the UK.

I think its safe to say the UK lost its helicopter industry when Agusta came on the scene.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Mazda6

Blackhawk is certainly mature. Its heritage dates from 1972.

Leonardo, Yeovil could surely make any helicopter, including Blackhawk, under licence.

RobW
RobW
1 month ago

AW are building the final Merlin orders and are expected to finish in the summer of 2023, just when the order for the new medium lift helicopter is expected to be placed. I’m not a betting man but I’d say AW149 is a shoe in.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  RobW

Shoe in as in foot in the door…

Grant
Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  RobW

It would be great if that order was the followed up with an order for 70 enhanced Merlins for the Navy, giving Yeovil work until the end of the decade. Unfortunately jobs in the south don’t seem to be as important as job Jobs in the North or Scotland.

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  RobW

Only issue Merlins are now assembled in Italy, Not Yeovil. some fit out work done at Yeovil

RobW
RobW
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

Fair point. They may have to reverse that a bit to get the contract.

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

Really…uk make all 101s, Norway , Italy CSAR and Poland to name a few.
We also R&O all 101s as well that was part of the work share.

Jay R
Jay R
1 month ago

Blackhawk is the way to go. Forget protecting UK jobs.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay R

Going by your incorrect subtle divide post in the past, you would say that lol.

Jay R
Jay R
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

whatever. Did you cry when Longbridge closed down.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay R

Thats not my point ,you are pretty suspect on this chat dare I say Ivan, or just you do not have a clue??

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay R

Forget protecting UK jobs? Tell that to the politicians who make the big procurement decisions.

Jay R
Jay R
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The point is sustaining a foreign owned UK based manufacturing facility is pointless. It will result in a higher priced product, built in too few numbers. For the same costs you get more Blackhawks, battle proven, reliable, capable. Look at the massive Chinook fleet in the UK. US built but sustains skilled UK jobs. A total success story. The UK needs too look across the pond not across the channel.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay R

Dare I reiterate my point that politicians who really make procurement decisions, will fight tooth and nail to protect jobs in Yeovil. It is certainly true that making foreign-designed helos (including adapting the design and building in British content) in the UK costs more. It may account for why we bought only 67 AH-64Ds instead of the required 91 or 97 (recollections vary).

Blackhawk is a proven design but it carries only 11 soldier passengers compared to Puma’s (a helo of similar vintage) 16. It stems from an early 1970s design. Is it the best medium helicopter we could get?

John N
John N
1 month ago

Here in Australia we’ve finally given up on the 47 MRH90 fleet (Euro NH90) and replacing them with 40 MH-60M for Army and 13 additional MH-60R for Navy (adds to the 23 Romeo currently in service with the RAN).

Maybe we can sell them off to you Poms? Maybe we can add the 22 Euro Tiger ARH (being replaced with 29 AH-64E) to sweeten the deal? Hey?

Cheers,

(PS, only joking about MRH90 and Tiger, both have been nothing but trouble!)

Last edited 1 month ago by John N
Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago
Reply to  John N

Can you donate a half dozen to us in NZ please John?
Seriously though, I’m keen to understand what went wrong with NH 90. Might this be similar reason to the Tiger helo- i.e. doesn’t like hot and high, dry and dusty operating conditions?

P.S. enjoy the elections this weekend!

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago

I would like to shill very hard for the Blackhawk, for no other reason than it looks cool. As we are all aware, aesthetics are of paramount importance

Marked
Marked
1 month ago

Fitted for but not with…a mandatory statement in any list of MOD requirements…

Peregrine16
Peregrine16
1 month ago

Vital to ensure that this program builds and protects UK indigenous design and build of helicopters.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago
Reply to  Peregrine16

Not sure about that. A cheaper and more effective interim solution would be to buy and restore existing Blackhawks out of American inventories. Leonardo do not offer value for money and have wound doing UK operations despite promising not to

Peregrine16
Peregrine16
1 month ago

I expect you are right about the cash cost advantage of choosing Blackhawks. However I do believe that we need to rebuild and protect our domestic capabilities. We should not allow the Ajax and Wildcat mismanagements to discourage us. The missile programmes seem to be good, the QE carrier programme was good, the current ship builds seem to be going well (fingers crossed), RADAR2 is imminent. Lets hope Tempest delivers. This programme is a great opportunity to create Helicopter design and build capability and if Leonardo’s performance at Yeovil has been unsatisfactory as you say, the opportunity now is to… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago

USAF choose AW 139(smaller than AW 149) over Blackhawk and a Bell proposal for their Nuke silos missiles.

So why USAF did not choose “cheaper” “restored” Blackhawks?

Last edited 1 month ago by AlexS
Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Given the corruption of US politics and the political nature of procurement, likely because of jobs and (more likely) bribes and insider trading

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

The USAF chose the AW 139 because they would be built by Boeing in the US and, oh yes, Boeing bid $1.6 billion lower than the other contenders, restored Blackhawks. It’s called under-bidding, for which Boeing is notorious.

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

They also bought the intellectual rights to the a/c and changed the name to grey wolf so the patriotic population didn’t realise they were buying foreign.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Peregrine16

Honestly the indigenous helicopter design things went ages ago.

I do have to wonder if it is worth being in that game when the drone game is going to take over most of that space very soon.

Or is the maned helicopter going to do something else?

Peregrine16
Peregrine16
1 month ago

Do you think it will be as binary as that i.e. drones completely replace manned helicopters? I don’t know. I expect there will be rotary drones; I presume expertise gained in manned rotary would transfer to unmanned rotary

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago

Perhaps a drone can do recce as well as a helo but can it carry a dozen or more fully equipped troops and several tonnes of payload?

Posse Comitatus
Posse Comitatus
1 month ago

Blackhawk. Proven design, latest model, on budget, on time, sufficient numbers, fits the requirements and liked by the aircrews. No local MP to screw things up. What’s not to like?

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago

Blackhawk is the oldest aircraft on offer first entering service in 1979 with the current version being a re-engine in the early 2000’s. H175 entered service 2014 is the newest design and shows the aviation technology development during that period, is better in nearly every performance metric despite being a less than half the weight. Bell 525 has the speed of the H175 but is firmly on the super-heavy side, its still in development after a 2016 incident when a prototype disassembled itself midair killing the crew. Blackhawk and Bell 525 due to their weight wouldn’t be able to land… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Of the four, the Bell 525 is the most advanced. It is the only one that has a fully digital fly by wire flight control system. All the others are traditional mechanically linked flight controls with hydraulic servo assistance. The Bell’s flight control software was part of the cause in to why it decided to chop its tail off. I can’t think of any Royal Navy ship with a flight deck/helipad that cannot take the max weight of a Blackhawk/Bell 525. None of the four contenders offer a step change in capability over the Puma. The Blackhawk is the only… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

The Bell’s flight control software was part of the cause in to why it decided to chop its tail off.

You mean in the accident?

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Yep. The NTSB report said that the aircraft developed an uncontrolled vertical bounce that operating in one engine mode exacerbated. The blades were scissoring, which means leading and lagging about the vertical hinge. The main rotor rpm had dropped and the pilots tried to lower the collective to speed up the rpm. But the vertical bounce was causing the pilots to move the collective slightly up and down. As the rotor rpm dropped the centrifugal force keeping the blades level dropped off allowing the blade to flap up and down. The red blade on its rotation flapped low and struck… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

AW 149 was build from start as a military helicopter so not like AW 139.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Its a derivative of the AW139 design, they modified the existing rather than a clean sheet design. Its not like the AW 139 cant be used in that role, in the US Boeing license builds the AW139 as the MH-139A and it is used to protect nuclear weapon silos, protect nuclear weapons in transit and for flying military VIP’s replacing the Huey in the role.

Grant
Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

The H175 is a Chinese helicopter offered by a Franco-German company. We should avoid it like the plague.

I can see the reasons for choosing the AW149 (not least the Italians are our partners for Tempest) and for choosing the Blackhawk (because it’s a fantastically designed helicopter, survivable and efficient). Hopefully we have a fair competition and get the best option when all is considered.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Now what is interesting is that at first Leonardo was offering to move the whole international production line for the AW149 to the U.K. HMG so go hardball on that and insist that if it’s a run the U.K. becomes the primary export production line.

Jay R
Jay R
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Why would you want to do that? To increase the cost of the airframes?

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay R

There is huge export potential on the 149, which ever country has the production line has profit making secure sovereignty capability around rotors for years to come.

obsession with individual unit cost or in year cost control is what’s crippled this country, you have to look at the long game of TAX revenues and industrial tec base capability that’s what separates the geopolitical entities that succeed and those that fail.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonathan
dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

If true then that enforces my argument.

ianbuk
ianbuk
1 month ago

Isn’t this the wrong time to pitch? I thought the US is in the final stages of its FLRAA selection? Doesn’t that mean the MOD will be purchasing the “old” option and not the platform of the future?

I admit, I don’t know enough on the subject, however, if it’s going to be an old platform, wouldn’t the Blackhawk as a second hand or leased be the preference in the short-term until the next gen of helicopters are around? Otherwise, these 40’odd helicopters will be around for a while and others will be flying around with the next gen tech?

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  ianbuk

Next gen is not just around the corner, You will need much testing and make it reliable.

You can buy a small numbers for special forces and then train to check the implications, but you don’t bet the whole house.
UK did not bought the V-22 for a reason, it is too expensive.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago
Reply to  ianbuk

IB you are right, seems wholly illogical to be purchasing “legacy” rotorcraft at this time, when in reality the future is V-280 et al.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Unfortunately time is against us here, Puma OSD is next year I think, and it is unlikely it can be extended without great cost. We should not have upgraded Puma in 2008(??), but replaced it then, so as to align better with the joint US offerings if that was the way we wanted to go?
Our hands are now tied, we need this in service in the next few years, 2030 is too far away.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Guns were also legacy until they weren’t(look at Type 31) and Royal Navy invested in Seacat that did not worked…how that turned out?

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Not sure that I see the connection, any logical analysis would confirm that helicopters are inefficient for 75% of their flight time, so not sure how a solution to this is not where we should be aiming.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  ianbuk

This is the specs for the US FLRAA program of Defiant and V-280 (from wiki)

According to the RFI, the Army has set a per-unit cost goal of $43 million (in 2018 dollars).

Maximum personnel: 2 pilots 2 crew, 8 troops

On April 4, 2019, the Army released a formal request for information and outlined its proposed schedule for FLRAA:[1]

  • Q4FY21 (Jul–Sep 2021): Award contract
  • Q2FY23 (Jan–Mar 2023): Preliminary design review
  • Q3FY24 (Apr–Jun 2024): First flight
  • Q4FY24 (Jul–Sep 2024): Critical design review
Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  ianbuk

Slightly different timescales and performance requirements. The US envisages them entering service in 2030 or later and theres two contenders, the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant and the Bell V-280. Bell V-280 is fast but 20-30 tonnes and very large while only carrying 16 stretchers compared to the 18-20 of the contenders in the UK selection. It would be unable to land on any ship other than a carrier. Defiant not really seen performance figures, it will be fast and maneuverable but quite heavy for its compact size, it also looks like it will be on the lower end of cargo volume, maybe… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

V-280 is 14000kg the prototype, it usually grows. I like more the Defiant configuration.

V-280 is massive and expensive. If the program expects 43M$ for each expect real price to be even higher. This have everything to be another V-22.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

You mean like a belated success? V-22 is 1st gen, V-280 is second gen and at scale will be cheaper, faster, more survivable and efficient.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

15.4 tons I believe quite a difference!

Grant
Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  ianbuk

I think we should be cautious about the FVL programme. The Tilt Rotor design has a number of disadvantages, the main two being complexity and high rotor disk loading (due to the prop rotors being smaller then a traditional Rotor). A smaller rotor requires far more power to lift a given weight: it’s why the Bell V280 has a lower take off weight then a Merlin but twice the power. It also means they are less effective in the hover and poor at autorotation (and therefore less safe). More power and more complexity mean more cost. The US are investing… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago

I genuinely like the AW149 for this; I know that people are joking it’s a foregone conclusion, but as long as they can get the right price I don’t have a problem. It is a military design with a civilian version, not the other way around like the Airbus and Bell. Leonardo have also said that they would use Yeovil to fulfil export orders for the type too, which would give the volume production you talk about (or at least an opportunity for it). That’s why it’s my preference. Although I’m a bit concerned they’re only talking about assembly now,… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Completely agree, it’s a very good military rotor that would enhance our capability to base and generate Tax revenue, instead of seeing that go to another country, pissing our nations wealth away to another nation when we can build our own very good rotors is a fools game and as short sighted as you like, global Britain has to first start at home. If we will not support our own industrial development no one else will. Do think a lot of the dislike comes from a miss understanding between the design relationship of the 139 and 149. The 139 is… Read more »

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

The 149 also has the advantage that all it’s avionics are all Leonardos so all updates, mods etc are all in-house.
Large percentage of this a/c will British built, although the first few will be built in Italy. Speaking to test pilots they rate this craft far more than Blackhawk.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

As unpopular a pill as it is to swallow, the best option is Blackhawk. That’s what it should be, and it’s what the army want, which is what should count because they are the main ‘end user’ It’s also proven, clearly upgradable, probably cheaper, can and has been adapted well to suit SF needs, and a whole plethora of other things. Obviously there is the, not built in Britain argument, which is a very important and relevant one, and to be honest the other aircraft would probably suit the RAF more and are a clearly a bit more finessed, but… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

Bravo.
Blackhawk It is.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

It’s just the best option now mate, and as bold a shout it would be to pick Blackhawk over the others, in this case I truly believe it would be the right one👍

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

actually is the Blackhawk the better option, the 149 is without any doubt a newer airframe has better lift and range and is a little more crash resistant ( I’ve had this argument with other and they have miss understood the design and used the 139 specs). The big difference is affordability..contrary poplar believe buying abroad is actually just pissing away your money, capability and future ability to defend yourself. Wars and especially geopolitical conflicts are alway one by the nation with the great ability to grow it’s capability, buying other is wearing your capability. Just the finances side: 1… Read more »

Peregrine16
Peregrine16
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Well said

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Of course all very good and relevant points, and genuinely I am massively pro British made and all that goes with that, but the people who will be using the ‘future medium lift’ helo are pretty unanimous in they’re praise and envy of what can be achieved by the Blackhawk. Not only that, it’s ready now in all respects, not months, years, right now with a lot of features that the UK military need and want in equal measure. I don’t know if the other helos can be refuelled mid air? But I do know that Blackhawk can and is… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

Hi Richard, the 149 is a genuinely military rotor ( it’s a ground up millitary build not a civilian rotor painted green, that’s the 139 people tend to confuse them as they look similar) and is in almost always out performs the Blackhawk. It’s also an in production rotor so there will be no spaving away development costs ( it’s already being made ). In the end what you many want now and the long term security needs of your nation are two completely different things and one if far more important than the other. In reality lots of people… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Thank you Jonathon, that’s very interesting, and if this was/is a platform that will be intentionally long serving then I agree. But as far as I understand they are, for want of a much better word, a kind of necessary stop gap, an improvement of what we have that will be purchased in the knowledge that there will be a newer concept a few year down the line. I fear if we went with the leonardo or airbus offers, we will be less likely to replace them at the right time because they will be so new. We don’t want… Read more »

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

As said previously the 149 came first and the civil 189 came after and was much more a success sales wise.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I have to ask, somewhat tongue in cheek, if you would also insist that the NHS also buy everything from UK manufacturers? From bed pans to machines that go ping. I ask it somewhat seriously because it seems that the MoD is always the one that is expected to fund the UK jobs programs and inward investment, but why shouldn’t this apply to every other Govt. department too? Particularly given the tax returns argument. The answer, probably, is that many items would cost far more and in the case of the NHS it would likely result in more underfunded services,… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Actually GHF I actually would, it would be far better that the NHS purchase U.K. products. A lot actually is, but unfortunately a lot of the high tec diagnostic equipment is only manufactured abroad. But actually covid was a classic example of why you keep sovereign ability….vaccinations for covid became very much a case of those who manufacture got far more than those who did not. The biggest saving the NHS makes is where there is U.K. manufacturing, so U.K. purchased drugs are far cheaper for the NHS that drugs that are procured from the international market. The U.K. pharm… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I probably didn’t make the point very well. If we already have industries producing what is needed then they should be favoured, ideally with a level of offset reflecting the tax benefits to the country of doing so, as you describe. Although, there is nothing to prevent foreign competitors from essentially subsidizing their industries, using the same rationale. The problem with a number of our defence programs is that there is no domestic competitive capability, so we are attempting to create/re-create/maintain industries using a limited MoD purchase. That would be like the NHS financing industry to produce medical electronic equipment… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago

This truly is a head or hearts decision. Head would be the Blackhawk. It will be the cheapest option by far, as any order can be a direct purchase from the US Army on the back of an existing order. In exactly the same way as the new CH47F Block 2 Chinook, that the RAF has purchased. It is a combat proven airframe and was designed to take small arms damage. With protected critical systems like the flight controls, main rotor gearbox, engines, tail rotor flight control and drive shaft, plus the tail rotor gearbox. It has crashworthy undercarriage along… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

“The initial requirement was for an interim aircraft that would be in service for about 15 to 20 years.” This is an important point that is usually glossed over. Rhetorical question: If this medium helicopter requirement continues to be an interim, then what will the market be like for selling these aircraft on at the end, i.e. mid-2040’s? Answer: Blackhawk is almost guaranteed to be the most desirable platform in a world market, where the Blackhawk fleet will be around for many decades to come. So full operating costs for the program are an important factor too, including residual value… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago

We were so lucky not to get involved with the NH90. On paper it looks a useful aircraft. With two sliding doors and a rear ramp, decent speed and range, along with built in armour protection for vital systems. It would have been the ideal candidate to replace Puma, so what went wrong? The aircraft has been plagued with production problems ranging from poor build quality control, to a floor and ramp that couldn’t stand up to soldiers boots walking it. There have been numerous incidents of the RTM engine suffering damage, from compressor blades touching the casing. But one… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

NH90 really is a head scratcher and yes a bullet dodged. That the two companies who dominate WW commercial helicopter sales managed to produce such a problematic helicopter is bemusing. Perhaps it was too many cooks in the kitchen and too much workshare at too many companies. Mind you from a commercial/financial perspective, Airbus and Leonardo are far better off dominating WW commercial and para military markets and leaving high end military vertical lift to the US. As far as new solutions, Airbus is working on Racer, the follow on the X3, while Leonardo is working on NextGen Civil Tiltrotor… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago

Unfortunately, Leonardo are only allowed to use tilt-rotor technology for civilian or para-military aircraft. Bell has the sole rights for military tilt rotor aircraft. They need to pursue a different route if they are to stay in the military market.

Airbus I am hoping will use the Racer project as the foundation of a new series of aircraft, including military ones.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Understood regarding Bell, that was the meaning of my last comment regarding Bell providing the licensing if they lose the FLRAA competition.

Seems Racer is part of the Airbus consideration
https://www.flightglobal.com/helicopters/airbus-helicopters-warns-on-weight-increase-for-natos-next-generation-rotorcraft/148718.article

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

BTW I should have added that I agree on all points.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

An excellent assessment Davey….

As I mentioned in a previous post, a friend of mine remembers well, hard used Blackhawks picking him up on occasion, patched like a patchwork quilt!

Tough as old boots…

The repair depot’s must have been so busy re-skinning back in the States during the desert wars…

What’s needed is a reliable battle taxi, not an overly complex composite and fragile helicopter.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Did Westlands really build Blackhawks before? Why not do it again?

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Yes, they made two. These were prototypes that were going to be used as the basis for the RAF’s medium helicopter replacement. Puma and Wessex. It led to the Westlands Scandal.

See link below:

Whatever happened to the Westland WS-70 Blackhawk? | Hush-Kit (hushkit.net)

It had at that time the higher power RTM322 engines plus some other mods. Westlands were going to final assemble the aircraft from kits sent across by Sikorsky.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago

The Relentless surely has no chance considering it’s troubled development and loss of launch customer. Now that is a flying Ajax in the making.

Expat
Expat
1 month ago

I don’t understand why domestic production/tech transfer etc are not criteria for the bid every other country insists on this. Apart from shipbuilding which appears to be untouchable politically the majority of uk defence manufacturering is getting screwed. I’m 100% for competition but this is tax payers money so let’s see some inward investment or offsets in return.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

I know I will be shouted at, but we really need 2 sizes to do this efficiently. Say 30 AW149 for RAF & 14 AW139 for AAC. Tin hat on now.

Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

actually John I support your idea. If not the AW139 for the ACC, then the AW169 maybe a more cost effective choice.

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago

Aw149 was originally designed as a military unit but everyone only recognises the more successful commercial AW189.
The yanks only ever consider buying American made units and rarely buy foreign, we should do the same. I work at Leonardo Yeovil and talk of buying Black hawk or whoever I find downright embarrassing.

Lane
Lane
1 month ago

It’s going to be American whatever it is.

Simon Wilson
Simon Wilson
1 month ago

Going to be the Blackhawk. Proven platform with full backup and support. May be an old design but like the Chinook, it works, many mods available, proven in multi roles.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon Wilson

Blackhawk. Very old design. First version designed in early 70s.
Is it really the best? – it can only carry 11 soldier pasengers – not very impressive.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Asking for a friend when the winning bid is revealed and uncovered can they play the Airwolf theme tune please.

Mazda6
Mazda6
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Awesome idea.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  Mazda6

Better not annoy DM by playing “Blackhawk Down”.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

😆 I’ll take Airwolf, I can hear the theme tune now. Loved it.

Angus
Angus
1 month ago

The Puma was past it long time back and should have been replaced with Blackhawks when Westlands had the chance to make them some time ago. Like so many needs the UK has to go abroad to shop as can no longer provide what the Services actually need. Poor leadership and greed killed off the the once World leading industries of GB.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Angus

Blackhawk was designed earlier than Puma – Blackhawk’s origins are early 70s.

Puma carries more troops (Qty 16) than Blackhawk (Qty11)

johan
johan
1 month ago

Just have to ask yourself this suitable question,

We Buy Chinook because its the best in Class.

We Buy Apache because its the best in Class.

So why not select the best in class of Mid sized proven system with over 4000 made.

or a Assembled in the west Country by a munch kin a system that is unproven and untried. and will be late over priced and difficult to repair.

  • LEO are training chimps for this work and shipping staff from Italy. UK Jobs my arse,
Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

Three excellent contenders; what could possibly go wrong?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P
  1. Backbench MP, Marcus Fysh, will lobby for something/anything to be built at Yeovil, even if it is unsuitable or overpriced.
  2. HM Treasury will get the order cut back.
  3. Minister will interfere with the project causing it to be delayed or cocked up.
Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

It’s difficult to argue against Blackhawk if it does the job at 1/3 the price of AW149. Is this machine going to be purely a ‘utility’ helicopter? What’s the likelyhood we will want to fit UK specific weapons and systems to different versions; and how easy would this be for each of the proposed alternatives?
How much of a military ‘medium’ helicopter is a commodity and how much is a circus act – where we need to be in sovereign control of strategic skills and technologies?

Sealsteve
Sealsteve
2 days ago

Whatever happened to the Westland WS-70 Blackhawk?Think we tried once before in the 80.