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IMH 2024: UK launches much-delayed second half of NMH procurement process

The UK government has formally launched the second half of the NMH procurement process to replace the Puma HC2, with the release to industry of the invitation to negotiate on 27 February. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The UK government has launched the second half of its New Medium Helicopter (NMH) programme to replace the Airbus SA 330E Puma HC2 in military service.

Speaking at the IQPC International Military Helicopter (IMH) 2024 conference held in London from 27 to 29 February, Minister of State for Defence Procurement at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) James Cartlidge formally kick-started the invitation to negotiate (ITN) phase of the procurement process after several months of delay, saying on 27 February that this would now be released to the competing contenders.

News of the release of the ITN to the industrial bidders came days after Cartlidge told the House of Commons on 13 February that “positive progress” was being made in the NMH effort to replace the Puma HC2s with up to 44 new rotorcraft, and that final cross-government approval was anticipated imminently.

Valued at approximately GBP1–1.2 billion (USD1.26–1.51 billion), the NMH is being contested by the Airbus H175M (for which Airbus has aligned with Boeing as a training partner), the Leonardo AW149, and the Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk helicopters. While the programme was also supposed to replace Bell 212, Bell 412, and Airbus Dauphin helicopters, the first two types will now be superseded by the Airbus H145, with a contract for six helicopters announced in November 2023. The Dauphins are expected to continue in service for the foreseeable future.

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