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Farnborough 2022: Leonardo establishing AW149 facility in UK

An AW149 was on static display throughout the Farnborough Airshow 2022. (Janes/Gareth Jenings)

Leonardo is establishing a manufacturing facility for the AW149 helicopter at its Yeovil plant in southern England, with a “multimillion-pound” investment announced at the Farnborough Airshow on 18 July.

The company said that tooling for the new AW149 line is scheduled to be delivered to site in the fourth quarter of 2022, and that it will leverage commonalities with the AW189 that was earlier produced in Yeovil.

“This investment will ensure that the first UK AW149 can be delivered into operational service in the Ministry of Defence's [MoD's] stated 2025 timeframe,” Leonardo said.

As noted in the Leonardo statement, the MoD put out a tender to replace the Airbus Helicopters Puma HC2 and three other rotorcraft types under the New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement.

“Should Leonardo be successful in winning the competition, its existing helicopter design and engineering site in Yeovil will have the infrastructure and skills readily available to deliver to this ambitious timescale,” the company said.

For NMH, the MoD is planning for 44 helicopters, between GBP900 million and GBP1.2 billion (between USD1.1 billion and USD1.5 billion), during a seven-year contract timeframe.

Besides Leonardo and its AW149, offers are expected from Acehawk Aerospace with surplus and refurbished ML-70 Black Hawks; Airbus Helicopters with its H175M; Bell with its 525 Relentless; and Lockheed Martin with its S-70M Black Hawk. Boeing has not yet confirmed its potential MH-139 Grey Wolf offering.

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