The New Medium Helicopter Programme will see four of the medium-sized helicopters currently in service across the armed forces replaced by one new 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.”

Work on the programme is at an early stage with effort primarily focused on developing and refining key user requirements.

Details in relation to the procurement strategy, basing locations, fleet size, delivery schedule and organisational structure are all being assessed, say the Army.

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Herodotus

What constitutes a ‘medium sized’ helicopter? Okay, so the Puma goes and a sprinkling of Bells in far away lands…I don’t see any other choppers except those used for training! Do they mean AAC Wildcat (hardly a medium helicopter) …….or even Merlins? If not then, asides from the Puma fleet, we are talking about penny packets….hardly an exercise that is going to wrack the brains of military leaders. Perhaps they are talking about a central pool that each of the services get to fight over when needed!

Last edited 16 days ago by Herodotus
Chris

I think this will replace the Gazelle and Puma mainly but then also the Bell 212s operated by the army in Brunei and the RAF in Cyprus.

Herodotus

It’s the imprecise language that is used (MOD?) that is confusing! Gazelle is a light helicopter used in a recce role. AW149 is a medium helicopter that can haul up to 18 passengers if needs be. Do they mean that it will replace four types of helicopter…if so, why not say so….or hasn’t the communications secretary been told. Coming on the back of an official document claiming that the AAC operate Chinooks, I suppose this is hardly surprising!

James H

I’ve read its also planned to replace the Dauphins used by the SAS

Herodotus

Another ‘medium helicopter’? A tad on the light side I’d say at a max 4 tons!

Herodotus

Thanks for that James….it clears up a few things. Possibly 35 to 40 aircraft….I’ll believe it when it happens!

James H

The positive me, hope we will learn the lessons of the past and finally have enough.
However the cynical me can see the order cut to 5 as a drone will be able to do the work by 2035…….

Mark B

2035? No rush there then?

Steve

How many total frames would that mean replacing?

According to wikipedia

Bell 212 = 5
Dauphin = 5
Puma = 23
Bell 412 = 3 – not owned

So somewhere south of 33 owned platforms, allowing for the figures above to include non-operational frames..

I would guess 35 is the straight replacement number.

Last edited 15 days ago by Steve
Captain P Wash

You forget the 28 Gazelles that were also specifically mentioned in the review. @60 in total if you add them all up.

Steve

I didn’t include them as they weren’t mentioned in the Jane’s article, so assumed they would be quietly retired and not replaced.

Last edited 15 days ago by Steve
captain p wash

Go look at the official Review, it clearly says 23 Gazelles, 20 Pumas and 5 Bell 212’s will be replaced with a new medium lift Helicopter. You can also see it by searching “Review” on this site, it’s under the British Army Heading. As a side, They do quote different figures to other sources.

Steve

Gazelles are pretty dated and probably not much use in a battlefield, so even if it’s half the numbers they will be far more useful and flexible. Just a question of whether we can realistically afford the number considering how expensive the wildcat was.

Deep32

Hi Capt, the French are doing something similar and replacing 6 different types across 3 services with Airbus H160M, some 160-190 helicopters. It includes all their Gazelles and Pumas. H160 is a smaller (6ish ton) helo then the AW149.
AW149 has got to be favourite if they are going to be built in UK, only thing that strikes me is that it is not a good fit for Gazelle replacement, far to large a beast. But then, we are in a period of multi role is best as it’s cheapest, so who knows!!!!!

Bill

At the same time perhaps the French can procure a ‘heavy helicopter and we can bring our three chinooks home.

Deep32

Yes, absolutely. It does seem to be a somewhat one-sided partnership at the moment!!!!

James Fennell

The paper does not mention Gazelle – that is twitter speculation. What is says exactly is ‘Investment in a new medium lift helicopter in the mid-2020s will enable a consolidation of the Army’s disparate fleet of medium lift helicopters from four platform types to one; including the replacement of Puma. The Army will also retain and upgrade Watchkeeper.’

captain p wash

It clearly states it and was published here last week. Don’t really know what else I can say. Maybe have a look ?

James Fennell

I did look – I’ve posted what it says.

Johan

The Gazelle is classed as redundant within the modern battlefield, Army with its Drone Fleet and Wildcats is see as a easy target.

Ron5

Pugwash, you are repeating what George wrote. George was wrong. Nowhere in the reviews was anything said about gazelle being replaced as part of the puma program.

Captain P Wash

Runs , There is and has been for some time a plan to replace Gazelle, You state that George is wrong, if he is then that’s fine by me but I’d like to know what will replace Gazelle if anything at all. Nice to see you back here posting some good points it’s just a shame you keep posting so many false and incorrect ones.

Ron5

You claimed that you had read in the official report that Gazelle was being replaced by the interim medium helicopter purchase.That was an outright lie that you’ve repeated ad nauseum.

captain p wash

No Lies here RunS…….. I’m only quoting what has been published. I can see that you have to write stuff like that as you fail to write anything sensible here or elsewhere now that you lost the Downvote argument both here and STRN…. RALMAO.

lee1

Gazelle is not a medium helicopter. Not even close! There is a good reason for having different types of Helicopter. Now I fully support replacing all medium lift ones with one single type. But you can not replace the Gazelles qualities with a medium lift machine…

captain p wash

Yes, I know that….. Jeese chaps Go tell George, He posted it ffs.

David Flandry

Gazelle is barely a “lift” helicopter at all. What, 6-7 troops?

DaveyB

No, 5 max and not full kit either. It is purely a liaison and scout helicopter. For its age its is still a very agile and nippy airframe. Though it is bloody noisy.

Airborne

Interesting cheers.

James Fennell

RAF operate Bell 412s in Cyrpus not 212s like Army in Brunei. That explains two of the four. For my money the others are SAS Dauphins and RAF Pumas.

Captain P Wash

Snap !!!

lee1

The Merlin is also a medium helicopter. and that would make up the 4th model as detailed. Given how brilliant the Merlin is, I hope they are not planning on getting rid of them! We should be building more of them and potentially equipping the RAF with them again.

captain p wash

In no way will Merlin be replaced here by the Medium Helicopter mentioned. That,s pure rubbish talk.

Nic

I agree with you the RAF should e equipped with a new Merlin fleet. It has proved itself many times when it was in service with RAF before it went to the Navy.

Andy P

I’m a tad cynical myself H, this bit here is utter bollox business speak….

“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.”

So cuts then. And as said, I’m not sure what they’re talking about with the 4 different wocka-wockas, more hypebole. Still, I’m sure it will get someone a knighthood.

Herodotus

I’m afraid it is arses and elbows again!

ChariotRider

Hi Andy,

Yeh, I cringed when I read that. Future Soldier! So that’s one soldier and 10 generals!?

Cheers CR

James Fennell

SAS Dauphins, RAF B412s in Cyprus, Army B212s in Brunei, Puma?

Captain P Wash

Puma and Gazelle are the two main choppers mentioned in the review, plus Bells…. there are a few others dotted around too. I don’t think it includes Wildcats though….. well I hope not !

Herodotus

I think that the hope was that the Wildcats would find their way to the Navy! I still think that that should happen and the Army should get a new general purpose light/medium chopper in decent numbers!

AndyCee

The announcement did originally include the Gazelles, I recall, along with the various Bell variants and Puma.
Hopefully it means that the new aircraft can replace the Bells and Puma directly, and allow the Wildcats to take over the Gazelle liaison role by giving the AAC a similar troop carrying capability that the old Lynx provided

That would make sense, I think?

Watcherzero

A medium helicopter is one which weighs over 5 tonnes but less than 25 tonnes approx.

So far and this isn’t confirmed the manufacturers have said they are pitching the following models for the requirement, indicated to be around 20 units initially rising to 30 units.

Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky – Black Hawk
Bell – 525 Relentless
Boeing/Leonardo – MH139 Grey Wolf
Leonardo – AW149
Airbus – H175
NHindustries (Airbus/Leonardo) – NH90

Herodotus

So, technically the west does not have a heavy lift helicopter…Chinook comes in at 23 tonnes max take off weight. Or has the latest variant exceeded that? 5-25 tonnes is an awfully large range….basically the Wildcat is in the same weight class as a Chinook. How odd!

Watcherzero

Stallion, King Stallion, Skycrane, some versions of the Chinook (as I said they are approx weight classifications that will vary according to commentator/time period), V22 Osprey.

Last edited 15 days ago by Watcherzero
Meirion X

I would say 8 tons up is heavy lift.
Chinook is Superheavy weight.

Those MoD civil servants again, a funny bunch!

Last edited 14 days ago by Meirion X
Herodotus

I can’t see that a band width of 20 tonnes is meaningful. To say that we have a medium lift aircraft available…could be a merlin….could be a dauphin….a pointless description!

Johan

The only issue with these 6, is 2 are the same aircraft, AND there all old airframe designs and are being lined up for replacement.

and say 30 units ordered MOD wants one Airframe so you have to look towards the Merlin replacement as well.

So another 40 plus airframes better deal ordering 80 airframes than 30

its another procurement headache,

but this is why the RAF gave up the Merlin fleet.

lee1

I think the RAF were reluctant to give up the Merlins. They were made too due to cost cuts and the Navy needing more of them. We should have built more for the Navy and let the RAF keep theirs.

Herodotus

That is what I understood as well Lee!

Andy a

Funny there are so many models to choose from. Are any of them military spec..?
I can’t find anything official mentioning gazelle just speculation

Harry Bulpit

Interms of a replacement of Gazelle that really has already occurred with wildcat. This new helicopter would be more of a late replacement for Lynx. Although unfortunately the sceptic in me would presume that this will result in a significant drop in aircraft numbers.

Jacko

Lynx was surely replaced with Wildcat. If we are going to replace at least four airframes with one common one that would actually make sense in servicing,parts etc. Hopefully it will be on a one for one basis as we are short on airlift as it is.
Perhaps there is at last common sense starting in our buying policy!!?

Harry Bulpit

In theory yes. But wildcat can only carry 4 people in the back as opposed to the 8 of Lynx. As such Wildcat is used more in a ISTAR role, such as what Gazelle was used for, as opposed to the genral battle field utility role of Lynx.

Jacko

Righto ta!

lee1

Wildcat can carry 6 passengers not 4.

Herodotus

The AW149 is a 9 tonne 18 seater, as opposed to Wildcat 6 tonne 6 seater!

Paul.P

AW149 might be worth thinking about as a single type for the FAA capable of replacing both Merlin and Wildcat HMA2; and also Wildcat AH1 which in turn might be a suitable replacement for Gazelle.

Captain P Wash

I think the Wildcats replaced some of the original Lynx… Battlefield Lynx ? but not really the Gazelles which have dropped in numbers quite significantly over the years.

Harry Bulpit

I think it was the Mk9 Lynx. Gazelle numbers have dropped as both watchkepper and Wildcats can perform the role better.

Andy a

Yeah no one official has mentioned gazelle that I can find, just the 4 types (bell, bell, SAS AW’s, puma and VIP , queens choppers

Levi Goldsteinberg

Heard this one before. Four types replaced with one? Time for some stealthy cuts!

Nate m

you know they say they aren’t gonna reduce the armed forces size but here they are. what if the entire fleet of this new Heli is wiped out what will we relay on then?

Last edited 15 days ago by Nate m
Meirion X

The MoD plan is to replace 4 types of middle weight helos, with one type of middle weight helo, across the services.
We do Not know the numbers of the new middle weight helo yet.

Johan

The reason is the timescale your looking at these being delivered and into service say 30 airframes, right as the Merlin is then being earmarked to be replaced. one Airframe for Medium lift will include eventually the Merlin replacement.

its complicated and better options on the horrison.

Andrew

What if the sun never came up again?

What if the world got hit by an asteroid?

Herodotus

That’s why Stonehenge was built…I’ll be out checking at the mid-winter solstice!

captain p wash

No you are wrong, Stonehenge was built because the Sun’s rays burnt Woodhenge down……

Airborne

Woodhenge is only a short distance away mate.

Captain P Wash

Indeed, I often used to pull up there with a KFC ( Zinger Tower Meal ) on the way back from London. Durrington Walls, a Superhenge much missed by tourists.

Paul.P

My theory is that Stonehenge was the observatory and Woodhenge was the calendar to count which day of the year. They worked in tandem.

Herodotus

You can’t make any useful astronomical observations other than the winter solstice from Stonehenge! For a faming community, this would be incredibly important for the timing of the agricultural year to come!

Paul.P

Not quite: the Blue stones form an artificial horizon so from a fixed point in the centre you can reliably sight the bearing on the on the circle where an astronomical object say the sun, moon or a star rises and sets. The people of the time would without doubt have observed that the sky appears to rotate about the fixed Pole star. As the seasons progress the morning sun rises at a different point on the horizon each day except for the 5 days following the winter and summer solstice when it appears not to move. ( this is… Read more »

Herodotus

Yes, we can imagine many reasons for their construction! The blue stones have been re-arranged so many times as to preclude an original intent. When it comes to a fat lump of stone, you can ascribe any astrological alignment that you like! Fact is, the only proven alignment is the winter solstice…clearly the most important factor for an agrarian community. The Druids were an iron-age priestly class of around, at the earliest 700 BC, There is no evidence for Druids at any time during the the Neolithic or early Bronze age…which at minimum was some 2000 years before the Druids!

Airborne

My theory is that woodhenge was the council estate…..

Paul.P

Lol

captain p wash

They didn’t have Tandems back then……. no-one had invented the Chain and Sprocket yet.

Airborne

If have to read the bloody daily mail.

Sean Crowley

Blackhawk if you cared about your soldiers lives , though AW139 keeps jobs .

Reaper

Exactly. Blackhawk, one of the most successful and versatile helos ever made. But no. The RAF had to throw the proverbial toys out the pram so the army couldn’t have it. It’s In the back end of its lifecycle though which sort of rules it out, maybe.

John Hartley

I see the Americans are fitting their latest engine to the Blackhawk, so that may stretch out its production a bit longer.

Johan

the two new designs on the drawing boards are to replace Blackhawk. PUMA has been flying for 50 years. so the platform needs to be for the next 30 to 40 years. so anything over 10 years old or Airbus related would be discounted.

Sean

The Black Hawk is an early 1970’s design.Buying it 10 or 20 years ago would have made sense, but not now when the US has the FVL project to replace it.
Best thing is to go with whatever the US decides, the Bell V-280 Valor or the Boeing SB-1 Defiant.

Johan

agree puma is 50 years old so this platform has to be future proof
as it will feed into the Merlin replacement in 10 years

ChariotRider

Blackhawk is indeed a great helicopter. I would point out that the US Army have ordered a version of the AW139 as the MH-139 Grey Wolf from Boeing.

Would be interesting to see if that version gets selected for this programme, especially as we seem to be cosying up to the US at the moment.

Cheers CR

Herodotus

Why would we buy a Leonardo AW139 from Boeing when we can buy a British made Leonardo Aw149….Boeing takes enough of British taxpayers money already.

Bob2

I suspect Boeing only has a licence to make the aw139 for the US market. Leonardo still make the aw139 themselves and it could be make in The U.K. if we wanted it.

Herodotus

I think the Italian trade unions would balk at that…its one of their big sellers. I should imagine that bringing the AW149 production line to the UK would be unwelcome news to the them even if the sales are quite small at the moment. Twenty four for the Egyptian Navy and 5 for Thailand. They are just starting to deliver the Egyptian order, so I expect it is going to be a while before the line gets transferred to Yeovil!

Bob2

I was only considering they would transfer the build of the uk military order. It would however probably end up more expensive than an Italian build.

Herodotus

Yes, I imagine that would be the case!

Johan

Forgetting MOD contract would insist most production would be in the UK, NOT ITALY no tax £s put back into the system.

Johan

the clue is in the AW149 Name, developed by Augusta/Westland. not LEO, and the EU can suck its own vaccine.

Herodotus

Yes, but owned by Leonardo!

Deep32

I think @CR might have a point, depends if the Gazelle is in the mix with the 4 types to be replaced! The French are replacing 6 types with the Airbus H160 which is a AW139 size helicopter, as opposed to the much larger AW149!! If it was a AW139, would Leandro shift production to UK as they state for the AW149!!!
It’s a bit horses for courses until we know what types are being replaced I imagine.

Bob2

Would the aw149 be too big for sas use? It is stated by Leonardo to have the longest fuselage in its class.

Deep32

I wouldn’t really know, AW 139 is closer in size to the Puma then the AW149. SF appear to like the Puma, so, its a choice between 12/18 troops in that respect. Is size important, we shall have to wait and see, only can’t see either being a good fit for Gazelle.

Bob2

I read somewhere that the aw149 can carry 16 fully equipped troops, which means 2 could carry a platoon or 7 a company. While you would need 3 and 9 for Blackhawk or aw139.

Deep32

There is that aspect too, more troops means less flights to get your infantry to any objective. I imagine it will depend on the over riding priorities when said choice is finally made, that and any industrial benefits to the UK!

Rogbob

Not when you add cockpit armour, additional radios, defensive aids, IR exhaust suppressors, door guns and ammo and gunners and do this above sea level on a non ISA standard day.

Airborne

Puma only used and liked as that about all there is for the lads to use. And as a heli a puma is pretty cheap and expendable. Ideal SF use mate. Another newer and more capable airframe is all part and parcel of the promise to DSF as part of an acceptable deal to accept the removal of the C130 with minimum fuss.

Johan

SAS given what they are given for 5 airframes, when were the last used…..???

Airborne

What last used? The aircraft or the men? Your reply isn’t very clear.

Johan

The recent change in USA head idiot has led to a cooling effect in the UKGovs.

as interference in something that happened years before he was even in the office, blaming the UK for its own racial problems before the little immigrant country was even formed, and generally being a jello sucker.

has seen a cooling towards the USA current heads up its own arse. the country is only where it is because of the work trump did as strange as that man was….

he never took USA to war, Biden has dropped more bombs in 4 months

Herodotus

You are a nice chap aren’t you Johan? Have a Nazi little itch to scratch perhaps?

Johan

stinks n stones you are a keyboard warrior, forgotten if your rude like this in the street someone will remove your teeth BUTTERCUP

Herodotus

Quad et demonstrandum ‘old chap’ 😉

MikeB1947

Fine, the Backhawk is indeed a great helicopter and could be purchased for the Army. However, when did the US military last purchase any European-built aircraft?

Paul

So what are the four types its replacing puma, the bells,are merlins included not much else to class as medium more gov speak for cuts no doubt

Challenger

I believe the 4 types are Puma, the Dauphin used by the SAS and the couple of Bell types used in Cyprus and Brunei.

Obviously the specifics are typically vague but it looks to me that they will operate separate units but pooled maintenance and training.

I think AW149 is the best all round choice. It’s low risk and the industrial benefits are hard to ignore.

Herodotus

Its civilian lineage means its availability rate should be very good! The Blackhawk is getting long in the tooth…..the NH90, with its tail ramp would have been good but has endured a painful gestation with unhappy customers!

Challenger

Yep! AW149 should be very reliable and reasonably simple and cheap to support given its a derivative of a much larger family of widely produced helicopters.

For me the clincher is the promise to relocate the production line to Yeovil. The government have just been saying they want to take a broader approach with procurement that takes UK industry and the support chain into consideration.

Even if Blackhawk or NH90 could be built here under licence it wouldn’t offer any longterm industrial benefits or opportunities for growth.

Herodotus

I fully agree with your assessment. It will be great for the long-term future of helicopter production in Yeovil if it becomes the ‘only’ supplier of the AW149. I’m not sure what the precise specs for the Grey Wolf (the helicopter that strikes fear into the hearts of many) are, but the AW149 has a larger airframe and significantly uprated undercarriage and engines! I’ve also seen a mod that includes stub wings for various weapons!

Bob2

The stub wings on the wildcat were designed to provide additional lift to compensate for the LMM weight. Could such wings be added to the aw149 to give it additional range instead of carrying weapons?

Herodotus

I don’t know about that….all I’ve seen is the wings dripping with ordnance!

AndyCee

Does the Army use the stub wings on their Wildcats, or is it only the RN ones?

Ron5

Only the Navy so far.

Bob2

The civilian version of the aw149, the aw189, is used by our coastguard (11 of them managed by Bristow), so there might be some cost benefits with maintenance.

John Hartley

Everyone seems to be pitching already, NH90, AW 149, Grey Wolf AW139, Bell 525 relentless, etc.

Herodotus

Ah Grey Wolf John….is this the helicopter that ‘hunts in packs and brings fear to the hearts of many’😁

Johan

Wolves have no interest in the opinions of SHEEP, LOL

John Hartley

The cynic in me fears that if this is another 4 into 1 super contract, HM Treasury will look at the price & have a fit of the vapours. I know some on this site want only one item, per category, bought in bulk, but while that has scale merits, the large initial price scares politicians & HM Treasury. It may be easier to sneak this past in two bits, say 20 AW 169 for the smaller role & 20 AW189 for the bigger part of middle.

Bloke down the pub

UK forces must have one eye on the US FLRAA programme which would fit much better with the proposed ’tilt to Asia’, where long range and higher speed are a must. As both the Bell V-280 Valor and the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant are some way from ready, I suspect the Army and RAF may be persuaded to accept a smaller order of helicopters now, on the promise of joining FLRAA later.

Bob2

While the range of FLRAA is appealing, would the U.K. ever purchase enough of them to sustain a light inf btn for the time it would take our land forces to travel 1000+Km to relieve them? For the US this will not be an issue as they will purchase 100s of them.

Bloke down the pub

Point taken, but I expect the scenarios envisaged in the far east wouldn’t involve large land forces but striking from the sea, and keeping assault ships away from Chinese anti ship batteries is definitely a good idea.

Bob2

If there is anti ship defences there is probably anti air defences and ground troops. Not ideal for a large air assault. If you are thinking about a sneaky force landing then Flraa would work, but so would an sneaky sub landing.

Bloke down the pub

Not if you wanted to be 50 miles inland.

Bob2

Good point. In my head I was thinking about operations on islands in the South China Sea.

Johan

The issue is the Order could be for 30 airframes with an option of another 30 over the lifetime of the program.

Merlins are 9 years from Out of service date. one airframe for the future Medium lift.

John Hartley

The latest Merlins, post US Pres non version, are a hell of a lot better than the early versions UK forces are stuck with.

James Fennell

Also says A broad range of recent advances in technology, production methods and operational concepts will be used in the design of the bespoke medium helicopter that will bring maximum capability and cost saving benefits to all three services, and keep the Army at the leading edge of technology. Can infer from that the Navy will benefit somehow – will they get Army Wildcats – and that it will be manufactured in UK to a ‘bespoke’ design?

Last edited 15 days ago by James Fennell
Herodotus

Sounds like an advert for Ted Baker! Bespoke….I think that the AW149 is operational with the Egyptian Navy. I don’t think the AAC will get enough to hand its wildcats to Navy….different role anyway!

Ron5

The future medium helicopter program is aimed at replacing Merlin as well as the interim Puma replacement. Do keep up.

Captain P Wash

By my calculations based upon the 4 types mentioned, we are looking at approx 60 helicopters or there abouts……. a pretty decent order if replaced like for like. That’s obviously a very big IF.

Felix

30 tops

Felix

Also 212’s in kenya

Captain P Wash

@23 Puma’s, 28 Gazelle’s 8-12 others….. It said replacement of 4 types……. I see you share the same doubts though !

James Fennell

8 Dauphin (SAS & RN) and 4 Bell 412 and 4 Bell 212. So 16 others, Also RAF have an AW109 for VIP use.

  • 24 Puma (one crashed)
  • 16 Bell
  • 8 Dauphin

Strikes me that these will be popular with the new Special Ops forces. and that may be the incentive for the programme.

Total 48. I don’t think Gazelle is part of this, not a medium helicopter
nor usefully replaced by one in NI.

48 is a good run and the incentive is then on Yeovil and UK PLC to sell some to keep lime open.

Last edited 15 days ago by James Fennell
captain p wash

I know Gazelle is not a Medium Helicopter, that’s why the official Review statement is so confusing but It does clearly state them together with Puma and Bell. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

James Fennell

I don’t think it does – it only mentions Puma.

captain p wash

Again mate, It clearly mentions them in the Review which was published on here last week. Why everyone keeps missing it I just don’t understand.

Glass Half Full

Gazelle was mentioned in the UKDJ article, it wasn’t mentioned in the “Defence in a competitive age” or “Global Britain in a competitive age” documents published by HMG. that’s what James is pointing out. I’ve looked in both documents and can’t find mention of it either. If you have found mention in the original documents please tell us where it is.

The assumption in the UKDJ article seems to be that because Gazelle doesn’t appear in any of the diagrams in those documents, its therefore replaced by the Medium helicopter. I think that is an incorrect assumption.

Captain P Wash

Article dated 22nd March under the sub heading British Army, last Bullet point. This is what George and UKDJ Published here and that’s what I keep referring to. If UKDJ have got it wrong then maybe they can say so. I’m happy to go with what is said.

Ron5

Except you have repeatedly claimed you read this in the government review papers which is clearly not true.

Own up and move on.

Bob2

Isn’t gazelle being replaced by another program? Surely it has been partially replaced already by UAVs and wildcat, which cannot perform the medium lift role the original Lynx did?

Johan

Yes the Peace keeper and the Wildcat, as Gazelle is seen as a soft target to be in a battlefield.

no Russian tanks running across Germany….

Gazelle is being slowly and quietly withdrawn from service.,

Herodotus

Yep, that’s the figure I was thinking! Will Leonardo want to set up a production line for that number?

Captain P Wash

Yes, Deffo, It’s rich pickings compared to recent orders.

Ron5

MoD sources has said about 30.

captain p wash

Please tell us then

Nigel Collins

Possible?

“With an active supply chain already in place for the AW149, Whitney noted that Leonardo Helicopters UK would be able to deliver to the RAF a military off-the-shelf aircraft in less than 24 months from a contract date. This, he added, could see the AW149 in service ahead of the Puma HC2 retirement so as to avoid any capability gap.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/leonardo-pitches-uk-built-aw149-as-puma-replacement-for-raf

Nigel Collins

And it can pack quite a punch!

Weapons:
“Outrigger pylons can carry seven, 12 or 19-tube 70mm and 81mm rocket launchers, air-to-air missiles, and air-to-ground missiles.
“The AW149 helicopter can accommodate 18 troops or 12 fully equipped soldiers.”

The helicopter can be fitted with a 20mm machine gun pod or a 12.7mm machine gun pod with three tubes for 70mm rockets.
The cabin can be fitted with window-mounted 7.62mm general-purpose machine guns. The helicopter is equipped with defensive aids subsystems.

Nigel Collins
Johan

bet he can, MOD has its eyes further in the future

Meirion X

Agreed!

Challenger

Anyone know if the separate Gazelle replacement is still progressing?

From what I can see Gazelle is now only used for policing duties in Northern Ireland and BATUS in Canada.

Herodotus

Hate to say it….UAVs somewhere in the next decade, unless you count Watchkeeper….many don’t!

James Fennell

Watchkeeper to be upgraded and a new tactical UAV in Command Paper. That is Gazelle, and/or hand over role to RUC/Border Force.

Dern

Unlikely to use UAVs for casevac and safety which is the primary role of Gazelle in Batus.

Jacko

Yep fairly regularly popping into Portadown police station over our house.

John Clark

A British assembled Aw149 does seem to be the obvious front runner… A total fleet of 50 would be nice, but looking at the requirements, it will need to be 40 at least to provide 30 to a forward fleet. I would add, as we are wringing as much ‘multi roll’ out of any new assets as possible, it needs to be Carrier deployable when needed. So, maritime corrosion proofing and tie down points, plus excellent controllability in crosswinds and throttle response for landings on pitching flight decks, plus structure and landing gear able to withstand maritime operations. Here’s the… Read more »

Herodotus

Twenty four AW149s have been sold to the Egyptian Navy….so I guess much of the groundwork has already been done on navalising it!

captain p wash

Hello mate, The Gazelles and Pumas and Bells mentioned are not really Carrier born/deployed, I think that this requirement might not apply.

John Clark

True captain, but they represent procurement from the 1960’s to the 1990’s in effect.

Our new rapid reaction ethos should mean that any procurement is scrutinised against this requirement.

That means air transportable by A400 and C17 (without taking days to reassemble) and ship deployed, when required.

captain p wash

I’m pretty sure they (Whatever They are ) will be Ship deployed though or carried at least, just not in the same way as Merlins and Wildcats…….

Johan

The winning airframe will become the Merlin replacement so as the AW149 You could be looking @ 40 airframes for Army/Raf and 40 for Navy. dangle that carrot in from of Leo and see what the unit cost is, or to Bell, Sikorsky.

Ron5

No not correct. The interim purchase will not replace Merlin.

A brand new design is being pursued for that.

DaveyB

Agree, the AW149 is not in the same class as the Merlin.

AndyCee

Suspect (hope) that the new Medium Helicopter will free the Wildcats up to replace the Gazelles. Would leave 4 basic types in service – Wildcat, Medium, Merlin and Chinook – as transport helicopters, plus Apache

Last edited 15 days ago by AndyCee
Bob2

What do we use gazelle for that wildcat cannot perform? Serious question.

AndyCee

Nothing from what I can tell. Gazelle is basically a liaison and low threat level observation helicopter. The Wildcat can do all that, and more. So replace the Wildcat in the battlefield role and move them to the role currently filled by Gazelles. Seems logical to me

john melling

Please let’s learn the lessons of the past and stop the tug of war over who needs what! and we will have a potent mix of modern armed forces We also need to expand our helicopter numbers because if we are to be “pooling assets between Army and RAF and RN… again! Which I dont like at all Especially with the recent changes with expeditionary forces aka Future Commando needing them. We should allocate so many for only Future Commando aka RM use only, then the rest for the RN and the Army and RAF. There are plenty of decent… Read more »

Pacman27

Firstly, if you look at the US brigade combat teams they have significant air assets. If the uk is serious about our new smaller army it too will need significantly more air power or risk total destruction. so having said that, our helicopter fleet has reduced by 50% in 10 years at a time when most countries are increasing their fleets. I think we can standardise a number of types into a single platform and timing is everything here as new technologies are coming to the fore and we should probably adopt one of these to ensure our money is… Read more »

James Fennell

Yes – when I was in Helmand way back when the guys at TFH were really envious of the US BCTs with organic everything including helicopters. I’m sure this is a demand..

Last edited 15 days ago by James Fennell
Pacman27

I do hope we follow through on the BCT construct, as I do think commanders deserve to have a defined set of assets to call upon, with additional resources at the divisional level.

given we are only likely to deploy 2 BCT’s at any time the other assets will be needed for maintenance and training.

it’s gonna cost a fortune, but is the right thing to do.

Robert Blay.

This is a very positive move for our future helicopter fleet. A brand new helicopter adding capability and availability. But reading the comments you would think it was dooms day. Jesus guys. 🤦

Levi Goldsteinberg

We’re old and cynical, seen this too many times. In practical terms this will mean a further numeric reduction of air power

Robert Blay

But a great increase in capability and availability. Puma & Gazelle very old tech.

captain p wash

Personally I think It’s fantastic news, I just hope they replace on a like for like number basis. The Review mentioned 48 in total but there are @ 10 more listed in the current published figures plus some other types in service that are not mentioned/included.

Robert Blay

Yes, but we are talking about Puma & Gazelle, they are hardly battle winning kit in this day and age. And a new type would greatly improve availability and sortie rate.

captain p wash

Define Battle winning kit ?

Robert Blay

Something that isn’t a 55 year old design. Puma is a great aircraft, but we can do better going into the 2020’s. Gazelle also great in it’s day. But it’s most advanced feature is a compass and radio and a seat for the pilot 😄

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. Doom is automatic til proven otherwise. We don’t know yet.
I think this is Puma, the Bells, and possibly Dauphin. Not Gazelle.
Gazelle has no front line role either now I believe. Wildcat and Watchkeeper have taken it’s scouting role, Apache it’s AT role.

Last edited 15 days ago by Daniele Mandelli
Nigel Collins

This may help solve the problem as to what types it will replace and the potential for quick delivery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSfYtyayrRI

nic

I think the future plan is that the Army will provide its own support Helicopters AW149 , which would be a better idea and leave Heavy lift with RAF Chinooks .
The Navy would continue to provide its own support Merlins /wildcats

captain p wash

Yes, That’s just how it looks.

Paul.P

We need to crack on with these changes. The requirements exercise should be along the lines of ‘can you make AW149 do the job?’.

Gavin Gordon

Been hearing a lot about this AW149 of late, of course. Bit surprised that does not seemed to have garnered much international interest. Anyone out there with a reason why?

Herodotus

As I have mentioned before, Egypt and Thailand have ordered roughly 30 between them! The Turks went for the Blackhawk (I suspect there was a strong quid pro quo from the US) and the Italian Navy went for the AW139 for its ASR requirement. Cheaper smaller and made by Leonardo anyway. A strong buy and operational service of the AW149 by the British might give confidence to countries that want a modern aircraft for their military requirements. Could be great news for Yeovil!

Gavin Gordon

Certainly agree it would appear a natural family fit alongside the Merlin & AW159. However, reading the AW blurb you’d get the feeling that customers are fools unto themselves for not jumping at the chance. That is somewhat at odds with attracting two customers over 15 years, for which AW explanation is that they were not really concentrating on it – hmm. Suspicion over Italian / unions reaction occurred second in my mind. But then the Westland end has been the loser on a number of new models, I think? If so, it comes here as a winning contract. Italy… Read more »

Herodotus

I think that the aw149has been hit as much by the success of Leonardo’s own aw139 as other competition…….the aw139 has been very successful indeed.

Nigel Collins

It looks like a winner to me!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSfYtyayrRI

Herodotus

It would seem to tick most, if not all, the boxes. It would be a significant and much needed replacement for an ageing fleet. As has been mentioned, the political brownie points on offer must make it the front runner. That said, we might end up with the smaller AW139M. I can’t see the other competitors really getting near! Thanks for the video, but why they need computer generated commentary I don’t know?

Nigel Collins

“but why they need computer generated commentary I don’t know?”

And the answer is!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dATiHiptg-Y

AlexS

Bit surprised that does not seemed to have garnered much international interest. Anyone out there with a reason why?

Maybe because AW 139 arrived first and sold more than 1000.
AW 149 is an evolution, bigger and militarized from beginning. The non militarized is the AW 189 and is in use by Coast Guard – Bristow Helicopters for SAR work.

A very nice video of AW 189 for Falklands service. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHFdujvqbFA

Steve R

Wouldn’t it make more sense to involve the Royal Navy in this and have whichever helicopter this is also replace the Merlin?

Seems this would benefit from economies of scale as that would be replacing close to 100 airframes. Chances are economies of scale might allow for growth of numbers.

Herodotus

AW149 is a 9 tonne helicopter, the Merlin is near on 15 tonnes….it is really a heavy helicopter, not medium. You can shoehorn 30 plus troops in the back. If you have ever seen one go overhead you would realise what a big piece of kit they are!

Airborne

Very comfortable ride even at low and fast. First time I ever flew in one, before the RAF chinned them off to the RM, I thought I was an extra in Alien!

Herodotus

Best I experienced was flying at very low level in a Bell Huey ….popping up over power lines and scaring road vehicles. All courtesy of those naughty boys in Oman….very cool!

James Fennell

Merlin will be replaced in 2030s with a long range naval platform, maybe also some Chinooks.

Johan

The Merlin is a large Medium lift and the RAF gave them up as being to large for there needs,

But the MOD wants one airframe going forward and the winning bidder, could have a future option for another 40 plus airframes for Merlin replacement.

40 plus 40 airframes over a 10 year delivery program big carrot for any supplier

Rogbob

The RAF gave them up as it rightly sees Chinook as a battlefield support helicopter, never wanted Merlin in the first place and was only forced to have them due to the neverending politics of “Save Yeovil”.
Merlin hasnt been the disaster that NH90 has but its not really a transport helicopter.

James Fennell
Herodotus

They also say 20 units to be purchased! Still, somewhat more accurate than London bus found on the moon!

dave12

Not good news for Yeovil if that is the case.

Herodotus

It would be a huge slap in the face to manufacturing in the West Country. I think that the many Conservative MPs down that way would be holding Boris’ arse to the fire!

Daveyb

Possibly, don’t forget Westlands used to put together kit UH60s, even sold a load to the Saudis.

Steve R

The Express says a lot of things, though, most of it utter tripe.

captain p wash

The Express doesn’t know the difference between a Battleship and a Rubber Dinghy ….

Airborne

Express….mmmmmm

Johan

too old in the tooth and due for replacement itself

Mark B

Why bother to go through the cost for such few numbers? It is not cost effective and if the comments on here are anything to go by there won’t be enough to go around.

James Fennell

SF and Special Ops need them.

Herodotus

SF needed the C130’s…they’re going!

dan

They will probably just ask for USAF MC-130 Combat Talons support if they need it.

Herodotus

Yeah…cap in hand…why not. You got any money I can borrow?

Airborne

And this is part of the reason that DSF has agreed for the C130 to go!

Johan

SAS get what there given used to fly around in wasps ffs

Airborne

Yes in the days wasps were effective and in use. They used to fly about in Westland Wessex as well in NI. Don’t see the direction of your post.

Mark B

OK. If that is so then we should not skimp on the numbers and we should not skimp on the design.Look at all the options. If we are going to do something we should do it properly.

James Fennell

If the £450 million budget reported by the Express is correct then its 20-25 airframes. The Tukish buy of 109 UH60 airframes was $4 billion. The Egyptians paid $1 billion for 24 AW149 and 8 AW139.

Last edited 15 days ago by James Fennell
Mark B

James the express is probably guessing and if the user requirements aren’t in then everyone is guessing? Trying to shoehorn all the user requirements into one product, updating the tech, selecting only UK companies etc. is not going to be cheap. Might as well build a good number and be done with it otherwise the unit cost is going to look ridiculous and draw a lot of criticism. Last thing I would suggest is our forces don’t get what they need. Sometimes it is better to just give them more of what they have but if the UK is going… Read more »

Airborne

Nowadays a production run of 30-40 assets is a decent order and production run by any means.

Mark B

Hi Airborne, I suppose if they can get one airframe to satisfy all those roles successfully and perhaps provide a step change in tech which might give our forces the edge it should be done but don’t skimp on the numbers in my opinion – it is a false economy. We are supposed to be global – in my book that always mean more units.

Airborne

Spot on mate we need to ensure we have enough assets and platforms in place to get the job done.

captain p wash

Just thought I’d have a rare look at the FB UKDJ Site……. Oh deary me, there’s a whole different level of stupid on there regarding this topic.

Dern

does anything beat the level of stupid we see on twitter though?

Captain P Wash

Don’t know, never go there. See RAF Luton sometimes though.

Johan

shouldn’t play on FB, I BLOCKED the page as there is a few who think they know it all

captain p wash

Ha Ha… yes mate, every site has them !!!!

Daniele Mandelli

Never looked at it. That good??

captain p wash

Laugh a minute mate !

Andrew D

I wonder now the navy have big carriers ,new helos for RAF ,Army what do you Guys think about a few chinooks for the RN to help out RM along side Merlin ,or is it crazy idea ?

Johan

The issue is Chinook is a Transport platform and falls under RAF, its why the Navy discounted the V22 as it falls under the RAF as a transport. the 3 services are supposed to join and act as one. or we just call the entire force the British Marine Corps. But it destroys decades of British Armed Forces history…. and Navy would have to service 6 to 10 Airframes That the RAF are doing….saving money

Rogbob

That is acheived by the RAF deploying a few Chinooks to sea. Chinooks are not suited to sea basing due to lack of marinisation and their huge footprint, but a couple is doable and is done.

Johan

Biggest issue to this programme is its time scale, and there delivery time scale, the Future Helicopter programme and the Merlin replacement. The MOD wants one programme for the forces, the current mixed fleet is some 35 airframes 22 are Puma, and the mix of Bell 212s and 412s, A365s make up the rest. But the delivery date means they will be to early for systems on the drawing boards now, ie the,Bell 360 Invictus Sikorsky Raider X or a Rotal Variant. and leading into the Merlin replacement. so a Merlin/puma/212/412 and A365s could be for 80 plus aircraft and… Read more »

Ron5

No. The MoD wants two programs: replace Puma and the Bells now. Replace the Puma replacement and the Merlins later.

AlexS

Royal Navy and RAF already contracted the AW-149 civilian called AW 189 to Bristow Helicopters for SAR.

James Fennell

That’s HM Coastguard, not under MoD, part of Department of Transport. RAF and RN no longer have SAR mandate.

Last edited 14 days ago by James Fennell
AlexS

Ok thanks for correction, i thought they were in control.

Bloke down the pub

Here’s a suggestion that’s a little bit left field. If the government was still supporting North Sea oil and gas exploration, they could give financial incentives for companies to operate the same type of helicopter as chosen by the MOD, thus giving a reserve force that could be called on in time of emergency.

Ron5

Or let them do their own thing and in an emergency use their helos and their support staffs.

James Fennell

Not as wild an idea as you may think. US Army was contracting private helicopter companies to resupply FoBs in Afghanistan to release combat helicopters for, well, combat.. RAF used contracted oil rig support helicopters in Brunei to support FoBs during the 1960s Konfrontasi with Indonesia too.

Last edited 14 days ago by James Fennell
Airborne

Spot on and some of those private heli lads were ex russkie vodka drinking crazies flying russkie assets……top blokes lol

Joe16

They kind of did for a while, a lot of the O&G aircraft were EC225s, which are quite similar to Puma as I understand it. Problem is, they have/had a terrible safety record; they have a known problem with stress corrosion cracking to the main drive shaft, which is exacerbated by cold, wet, salty conditions (perfect for the North Sea). They haven’t found a proper fix for it yet, only greater maintenance inspections and suchlike. Because of that, their reputation plummetted, and operators started moving to S92s (not sure whether it was connected or just refreshing of fleets, or a… Read more »

DaveyB

This really has come at the wrong time! It is too soon for a decision on the US Army’s future medium lift program. Whose two competitors will be game changers in helicopter evolution and battlefield support. The outcome and series production of the winner to initial operating capabilities is probably 10 years away. The problem the RAF have is the Puma needs replacing a lot sooner as spares are getting scarce and requiring short production runs, therefore increasing in cost. The Army have the two Bells (212 and 412) and the Dauphin used by the SF community. The two Bells… Read more »

Glass Half Full

I agree that the 2025 OSD on Puma and Gazelle is unfortunate timing. As I think you know (but included for other readers), the UK signed an MoU agreement with the US in July 2020 that includes both the Future Attack reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) and the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), per source linked below. That was clearly done with knowledge of what the review would contain. James Heappey, the minister who signed the agreement had also earlier commented to a House of Commons meeting on the future of UK vertical lift, stating that the UK had to be careful… Read more »

BB85

10 years is still a long time away, ideally we should have ordered the Aw139 instead of wildcat and saved a fortune when it’s export chances where so limited. It also could have replaced the Puma rather than giving it a life extension program just to retire it anyway. I think we are at least 15 years away from having tilt rotara replace medium sized helecopters and at twice the price we will order half as many.

Joe16

I agree with you that it’s slightly poor timing, but I think a “long term interrim” solution is a wise choice at the moment. I like the look of the FARA and FVL programmes in the States, but they’re liable to have a similar path as the V-22 in terms of how long it takes (and how much it costs) to make them relaible and affordable. I remember the poor safety record and scathing reports that surrounded the Osprey for quite some time, even after it entered service. I’d be happy with buying a good, modern medium lift helicopter now… Read more »

DaveyB

I would fully expect Bell have learned the lessons from developing the Osprey. Especially in regards to the control ergonomics for the combined collective/tilt control. As well as factoring for vortex ring divergence that the Osprey was/is more susceptible to.

Joe16

Yes, I’m sure they have. But I’ll bet LM felt they’d learned a lot from the F-22 that would help them with the F-35 as well. I know that the two aren’t comlpetely analogous, and the F-35 project is a great whipping boy when it comes to project cost, schedule and specification slippage. But I think my point can still be valid; these concepts that Bell and the others are coming up with are new and/or different in many respects from the V-22, and none of them are expected to have flyable prototypes for at least a couple of years… Read more »

Ron5

Why the debate on whether the Puma replacement should be an interim purchase or not? The MoD has said it is.

Secondly, the UK has signed up to an international collaboration to build the eventual Puma & Merlin replacement. The UK is currently leading the concept phase. That has to be the favorite over a US purchase.

DaveyB

The debate is simple, should the RAF get the tried and trusted Blackhawk, that it should have got some 15 years ago? Which has a very large support base or go for the AW149, which is only used in small numbers by Thailand and Egypt? The issue the European manufacturers are and will be facing is how will their products be competitive with what the US will soon be producing. It can’t be emphasized enough on how much the Defiant and Valor are game changers in helicopter evolution. When the US Army specified a cruise speed over 200kts and a… Read more »

Glass Half Full

In addition to the question of whether a European project will develop something to compete with FLRAA performance, is the observation that both V-280 and SB-1 Defiant prototypes are already flying, and have been for a couple of years plus. Thus the risks against having a proven platform by ~2035, when the UK might wish to start operational use, are significantly lower than the European platform that doesn’t apparently exist in concept yet. It would be great if Europe could develop a stronger military helicopter business. But there isn’t a great track record for this in the last 2-3 decades,… Read more »

Sooty

A seven line press release doesn’t really cut it when it comes to detailing a programme. No a good headline.

Herodotus

Sooty…what are you doing here?

JJ Smallpiece

So the new helicopter will be a design compromise – Jack of all trades, master of none. It rarely works out well.

James Fennell

Personally I think it will be a small 20 airframe buy of a capable Special Ops variant for the new Rangers and the SF. SF lost their Lynx recently and there was talk of replacing them with re-roled Pumas. So my thought is:

  • 8 based in UK (replacing Puma and Dauphins) – SF use
  • 2 in Kabul – supporting Rangers
  • 2 in Brunei, supporting Rangers and Jungle Training
  • 4 in Cyprus, supporting Rangers and providing SAR cover
  • 2 in Kenya, supporting Rangers and LI School
  • 2 in Belize, supporting Rangers and Jungle warfare school

Rest will wait until 2030s.

Last edited 14 days ago by James Fennell
Ron5

So the regular army doesn’t need a medium helo?

James Fennell

I’m sure they would benefit from one. I’m not playing fantasy fleets, I taking a stab at what I think will occur on the likely budget. They will probably have to live with Chinook.

Last edited 13 days ago by James Fennell
Ron5

“Jack of all trades, master of none”

In other words a utility vehicle like a jeep or a truck.

colin

I have heard that the UK will buy BlackHawk from US apparently UK special forces have put pressure on MOD for this Helo

Daveyb

The SF community like the Blackhawk, as the gunners have separate windows to fire out off to provide support, whilst leaving the two side doors open for egress.

They have have also been asking for a much smaller aircraft, that is quickly deployable, can land on roof top and is relatively quiet. The MH6 “Little Bird” has been top of their wish list for quite some time.

Johan

USA Has just launched a procurement program for replacement of Sea Hawk and Fire Scout. due to the fear of being outclassed in the modern Battlefield.

one to watch.

Nic

Do you upgrade the Puma fleet again and wait for Defiant to come line or do you go ahead wth AW149 or Blackhawk ?

JulietPapaCharlie

So Gazzelle that keeps on being mentioned here is absolutely not one of the 4 platforms to be withdrawn as part of the medium lift project. There is already a programme underway to replace gazelle with another ‘suitable’ surveillance platform. The 4 platforms in question to be replaced as part of the medium lift project are, 212, 412, Dauphin N3 and Puma. Merlin will not go, Wildcat will not go.