The upgrade of UK Ministry of Defence Puma aircraft took a further major step forward when Eurocopter handed over its first Puma Mk2 aircraft to MOD. This upgrade will significantly enhance the aircraft’s performance, mission capability and safety. The first modified aircraft will fly from Oxford into QinetiQ’s Boscombe Down facility where it will support trials.
Eurocopter’s first internal qualification of the Puma Mk2 was achieved on July 6, concluding the first phase of the planned developments, with further enhancements to its mission capabilities planned over the coming months. To date, Eurocopter has completed the initial upgrade process on three Puma helicopters, all of which are now involved in flight testing. The first of these will be delivered to QinetiQ’s Boscombe Down military test and evaluation centre for further trials.
The Puma Mk2 helicopters represent a key element of the UK’s medium battlefield support helicopter capability, and will be deployed for tactical troop and load movement by day and night. The upgrade will extend the operational lifetime and significantly upgrade the capabilities of 24 of the Royal Air Force Puma helicopters. The new Puma is an ideal medium lift platform for urban operations and its ability to be rapidly deployed by C17 make it the ideal platform for fast moving contingent combat and humanitarian operations.
“This delivery milestone marks another important accomplishment in a programme that is vital for the UK’s combat capabilities, and it results equally from Eurocopter’s commitment to its success and our close cooperation with the Ministry of Defence,” said Markus Steinke, the Managing Director of Eurocopter UK. “Once upgraded, Puma Mk2s will be serving the Royal Air Force until 2025, offering exceptional performance and capability.”
Enhancements for the Puma Mk2 include major performance and safety improvements with the use of new Makila 1A1 turboshaft engines; the integration of a full glass cockpit incorporating modern avionics and a flight management system; the implementation of a digital automatic flight control system; as well as the incorporation of a secure communications suite, new defensive aids and ballistic protection for crew and passengers. Additionally, the helicopter’s greater onboard fuel capacity and lower fuel consumption will increase the Puma Mk2’s operating range. The Puma will be able to carry twice the payload over three times the range than its predecessor even in the most demanding of environmental conditions.
About Eurocopter UK Ltd.
Eurocopter UK Ltd. is headquartered in Oxford, with additional bases in Dublin (Ireland), Belfast (Northern Ireland), Hawarden (Wales) and Aberdeen (Scotland). Through this fully-owned subsidiary, Eurocopter enjoys a reputation for innovation, high quality and a strong customer service ethos. Having achieved an exemplary performance in the customization, distribution and support of Eurocopter products for civil and public service customers during the past 30 years, Eurocopter UK also provides state-of-the-art services to the oil & gas Industry and the UK armed forces.
The Ministry of Defence relies on 100 Eurocopter helicopters for transport, training and Special Forces missions, and has awarded the Puma Upgrade Programme to Eurocopter UK Ltd. With over 450 helicopters in service in the British Isles, Eurocopter is the leading supplier of turbine helicopters in the United Kingdom.
His Majesty Juan Carlos I, King of Spain took a flight in the Spanish variant of the cutting-edge NH90 helicopter, which is being fitted out and tested at the company's facility in Albacete. The first deliveries of this aircraft to the Spanish Army Airmobile Force (FAMET) are scheduled for next year.
His Majesty King Juan Carlos I is an experienced pilot with 3,740 helicopter flight hours. Most of these flights have been in aircraft built by Eurocopter, particularly the Super Puma but also the EC135, EC145, EC225 and even the Tiger attack helicopter.
In December 2006 the Spanish Ministry of Defence and Eurocopter España signed a contract for the purchase of 45 NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopters for the Spanish Armed Forces. This marked the outset of the program to revamp the Ministry of Defence’s medium-class helicopter fleet and consolidated Eurocopter’s role in this process.
While the first two Spanish NH90s were manufactured at Eurocopter’s facilities in France, Eurocopter España is responsible for the assembly of the other 43 NH90s and their delivery to the Spanish Armed Forces. Eurocopter’s Spanish site, located in Albacete and inaugurated in 2007, is one of only two plants producing the front fuselage for the NH90, the most advanced helicopter in its category with over 500 orders worldwide.
The Spanish variant of the NH90 has next-generation General Electric CT7 8F5 engines assembled at the Albacete plant of ITP, a personalized communications system and a sophisticated electronic warfare system developed by Indra. The Spanish NH90 also incorporates avionics software developed by Eurocopter España’s Design Office.
The twin-engine NH90 is the world’s most advanced multi-role helicopter, integrating fly-by-wire technology and the latest composite materials to minimize corrosion and maximize survivability and life cycle. Capable of carrying from 16 to 20 equipped troops, the NH90’s versatility makes it suitable for all types of land and naval missions, such as troop transport, amphibious operations, search and rescue, personnel recovery, casualty evacuation and counter-terrorism.
About the NH90
Produced in two basic versions – the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) – this 11-metric-ton class rotary-wing aircraft provides a common platform for army, navy and air force roles, enabling countries to rationalize their helicopter fleets while also organizing training and support on a larger scale, with flexible management of personnel and equipment. Its large cabin, rapid access (with two lateral sliding doors and optional rear ramp) and quick role-change capability ensures mission flexibility for multiple operational scenarios.
To date, a total of 529 NH90s have been ordered by 14 nations, of which 418 are for the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) version. Six NH90 final assembly lines are now operational in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Finland and Australia under the direction of the pan-European NHIndustries industrial organization – which is owned by Eurocopter (62.5%), AgustaWestland (32%) and Fokker Aerostructures (5.5%). 119 NH90s have been delivered to the armed forces of customer nations, among which 100 in the TTH version, with these aircraft logging some 20,000 flight hours.
The pivotal role played by Eurocopter helicopters in Africa in homeland security, law enforcement, rescue missions and military support will be highlighted at the upcoming AAD Airshow, to be held in Pretoria, South Africa on September 19-23. To demonstrate the versatility of its range of aircraft, Eurocopter will present an EC130, an EC145 and an AS350B3 at the EADS static display (chalets 1 to 4), in addition to two 1:10 scale models of the EC725 and AS565 MB.
There are more than 650 Eurocopter aircraft in service in Africa – some 31 percent of the continent’s total helicopter fleet – performing a wide variety of missions every day, including national security and border patrol duties, rescue missions, and corporate and offshore transportation.
“Through its significant presence in support of African countries and its commitment to providing them with support they can rely on, Eurocopter intends to remain a preferred supplier of helicopters for civil, parapublic and military applications,” said Olivier Lambert, Eurocopter’s Senior Vice President for Sales and Customer Relations. “Designed and equipped with state-ofthe- art technology, our helicopters are capable of accomplishing missions in the toughest operating conditions and in the most demanding of situations.”
Thanks to its subsidiary Eurocopter Southern Africa, the Group guarantees technical support for the 250 aircraft currently in service in the southern part of the continent. Most of these helicopters are operated by armed forces and police services as well as by companies tapping into natural resources or offering corporate and VIP transportation services. They are also used for utility missions.
In pursuing the development of these activities, Eurocopter also draws on the training center built at Grand Central, near Johannesburg. The center provides technical training and certification to the pilots and mechanics employed by its customers in the region.
This past June, Eurocopter put its first helicopter flight simulator in the region into service at Kempton Park, near Johannesburg. Designed to provide training for pilots and flight engineers on the Super Puma and similar helicopters, such as the Oryx operated by the South African Air Force, the simulator is located at the SimAero training center, next to O.R. Tambo International Airport.
“Our investments underscore the determination and desire of Eurocopter Southern Africa to supply its customers with first-class services and to consolidate our long-term commitment to the region,” said Fabrice Cagnat, CEO of Eurocopter Southern Africa.
Prior to the airshow, Eurocopter Southern Africa will hold two seminars in Centurion, near Pretoria. The first of these, which takes law enforcement helicopter missions as its theme, will bring together around 100 representatives of agencies and police forces the world over, including the San Francisco Police Department, police services from Namibia and Botswana, and the French Gendarmerie, who be sharing their operational experiences and exchanging views on how their missions will evolve in the years to come. The second seminar, which will be attended by helicopter operators, customers and the Group’s experts and engineers, will focus on flight safety and the latest developments in this field.
About Eurocopter Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd
Established in 1994, Eurocopter Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd is a 100% fully own subsidiary of the Eurocopter Group based on the Grand Central Airport in Midrand ideally located between Johannesburg and Pretoria. With a complement of 80 employees, Eurocopter Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd sells the whole range of Eurocopter products to 20 countries in the sub-Saharan and Indian Ocean region. Recognized by all the main regional CAAs Eurocopter Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd has the capacity to support its customer base from Grand Central and Cape town but also on the field where their customers operate.
A contract has been signed between Eurocopter and the Royal Thai Air Force for the supply of four EC725 helicopters, configured for search and rescue missions.
Signing the new agreement today were Air Marshal Paiboon Singhamat of the Royal Thai Air Force, and Olivier Lambert, Eurocopter’s Senior Vice President for Sales and Customer Relations.
“This latest endorsement underscores the role of our EC725/EC225 family as the helicopters of reference in Asia for search & rescue,” Lambert said. “It also marks a new step in Eurocopter’s expansion of its ties with Thailand as the country moves ahead with modernization programs for its helicopter fleets.”
Deliveries of the EC725, the twin-engine tactical rotorcraft from Eurocopter's successful Cougar family, will be in 2015.
“This contract for the EC725 will greatly enhance the capabilities of the Royal Thai Air Force, giving us added reach and effectiveness in search and rescue missions," stated Air Marshal Paiboon Singhamat, Chairman of the Purchasing Committee.
The twin-engine EC725/EC225 rotary-wing aircraft family features high-performance navigation and mission systems, including a unique digital four-axis autopilot. Offering excellent flight autonomy, this powerful machine is also great for tactical transport as it has a large cabin with seating for 25 persons. As a result, the EC725 military version and its EC225 civilian/parapublic variant have become the reference for civil and military search and rescue, off-shore and passenger transport missions around the world.
Eurocopter already is a helicopter supplier in Thailand for military and law enforcement, having been selected for acquisitions by the Royal Thai Army and Royal Thai Police.
About the Royal Thai Air Force
The Royal Thai Air Force or RTAF, established in 1913, is the air force of the Kingdom of Thailand, and ranks as one of the earliest air forces to be formed in Asia. The first airmen that formed the Air Force were trained in France between 1912 and 1913. Currently the Royal Thai Air Force consists of around 45 000 active servicemen under the command of Air Chief Marshal Itthaporn Subhawong. The Royal Thai Air Force has its headquarters at Don Muang Airbase, Bangkok and has several modern bases from which it conducts its administrative, transport, and training operations.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace and defense-related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approximately 20,000 people. In 2011, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s number one helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 5.4 billion Euros, orders for 457 new helicopters and a 43 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Group’s helicopters account for 33 percent of the worldwide civil and parapublic fleet. Eurocopter’s strong international presence is ensured by its subsidiaries and participations in 21 countries.
Eurocopter’s worldwide network of service centers, training facilities, distributors and certified agents supports some 2,900 customers. There are currently more than 11,300 Eurocopter helicopters in service in 149 countries. Eurocopter offers the most comprehensive civil and military helicopter range in the world and is fully committed to safety as the most important aspect of its business.