Leonardo encouraged by UK commitment to new medium-lift helicopter and national industry

by Gareth Jennings

Leonardo is encouraged by the UK government’s recent announcements that it is to recapitalise the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) medium-lift helicopter fleet, at the same time as supporting national industry in fulfilling that and other future requirements.

AW149 production would be transferred from Italy to Yeovil, should the type be selected by the UK as its new medium-lift helicopter solution. (Leonardo)

AW149 production would be established in Yeovil, should the type be selected by the UK as its new medium-lift helicopter solution. (Leonardo)

Speaking to Janes and other defence media on 26 March, a senior official from Leonardo Helicopters UK said that the announcements in the Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper over the previous days had boosted the company’s plan to offer a UK-built AW149 solution to the MoD’s requirement to replace the Westland-Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC2 and three other unidentified helicopter types.

“I would say how encouraged we are by the announcements that have come out this week, both in the confirmation of a replacement for the Puma and the recapitalisation of the medium fleet, and also very heartened by the focus on UK prosperity and the need to generate that prosperity will now be a key decision point on procurement decision going forward,” Managing Director Leonardo Helicopters UK, Nick Whitney, said. “From a Leonardo perspective with 7,000 jobs in the UK and 3,000 at Yeovil [in southern England], that is all very heartening for us and vitally important. We are sustaining high-end jobs that go hand in hand with having that total; capability to design, develop and build helicopters in the UK – we are the only company that can do that.”

With the Royal Air Force (RAF) set to retire its 23-strong Puma HC2 force in 2025, Janes

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Leonardo is encouraged by the UK government’s recent announcements that it is to recapitalise the Mi...

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