skip to main content

UK could extend Puma to mitigate delays to NMH replacement plan

The UK fields 23 Puma helicopters that are scheduled to be replaced via the New Medium Helicopter procurement programme. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) may seek to extend the service life of the Westland-Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC2 medium-lift rotorcraft as it looks to mitigate potential delays to the New Medium Helicopter (NMH) replacement programme and other issues.

Speaking to the House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) on 17 May, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Designate Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton said that the current planned retirement date of 2025 could conceivably be pushed back to 2027 or 2028. This would not only mitigate delays to the NMH programme, but also allow time for options to be considered to replace the Pumas currently operating in Brunei and Cyprus.

β€œThe Puma was originally going to be retired sooner than 2025, but in the Integrated Review [of 2021], it was extended in order to fulfil roles in Cyprus and in Brunei. It could be extended still further, out to 2027 or 2028 – that kind of timeframe, but that decision has not been taken yet,” ACM Knighton said at the HCDC hearing, which was titled, β€˜Are air force gaps leaving UK exposed?'

ACM Knighton added that the timeline for the Puma retirement is dependent on progress being made on the NMH, which Janes

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...