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UK ‘continues to review' Puma retirement date

The MoD ‘continues to review' the out-of-service date of the 23 Puma helicopters operated by the RAF, a spokesperson told Janes . (Crown Copyright)

The UK has not yet decided on an out-of-service date for the Westland-Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC2s, with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) telling Janes on 20 December that its planning in this regard “is under continual review”.

With the New Medium Helicopter (NMH) replacement for the Puma and three other aircraft types scheduled to enter service from 2025, the MoD declined to confirm reports that the 23 Royal Air Force (RAF) Pumas located at RAF Benson in England will serve as an interim replacement for the five Army Air Corps 212s used for training in Brunei and the three RAF 412s used for search and rescue and other duties in Cyprus.

All three types, as well as the Airbus Dauphins used by the Special Air Service, are scheduled to be replaced under the NMH that was officially launched with an industry day held on 25 November.

“The out-of-service date for Puma is under continual review based on operational and non-operational commitments, which includes rotary-wing provision in Cyprus and Brunei,” the MoD said. “We are working with all key stakeholders on this decision and cannot comment further at this time.”

The Puma HC2 is a massively upgraded version of the original Puma HC1 that entered RAF service in 1971.

The HC2 upgrade involved fitting 24 Pumas with more powerful Turbomeca Makila 1A1 engines, as well as ‘glass' cockpit avionics, secure communications, and improved self-protection equipment. They have also been fitted with wire-cutters and an anti-collision system as part of a safety upgrade implemented across the whole of the UK's front-line helicopter fleet.

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