Eurocopter hands over first Puma Mk2 UK MoD
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has received the first Puma Mk2 helicopter, marking an important milestone in the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) upgrade programme. Eurocopter handed over the modified aircraft on 12 September, which will now fly from Oxford into QinetiQ’s Boscombe Down facility where it will support trials.
The UK MoD is upgrading the 24 of the RAF’s Puma aircraft to Mk2 standard to enhance capabilities and extend the fleet’s operational lifetime until 2025.
Eurocopter’s first internal qualification of the Puma Mk2 was achieved on 6 July, concluding the first phase of the planned developments, with further enhancements to its mission capabilities planned over the coming months. To date, Eurocopter has completed the initial upgrade process on three Puma helicopters, all of which are now involved in flight testing. The first of these will be delivered to QinetiQ’s Boscombe Down military test and evaluation centre for further trials.
The Puma Mk2 helicopters represent a key element of the UK’s medium battlefield support helicopter capability, and will be deployed for tactical troop and load movement by day and night. According to Eurocopter, the new Puma is an ideal medium lift platform for urban operations and its ability to be rapidly deployed by C17 make it the ideal platform for fast moving contingent combat and humanitarian operations.
According to Eurocopter, enhancements for the Puma Mk2 include major performance and safety improvements with the use of new Makila 1A1 turboshaft engines; the integration of a full glass cockpit incorporating modern avionics and a flight management system; the implementation of a digital automatic flight control system; as well as the incorporation of a secure communications suite, new defensive aids and ballistic protection for crew and passengers. Additionally, the helicopter’s greater onboard fuel capacity and lower fuel consumption will increase the Puma Mk2’s operating range. The Puma will be able to carry twice the payload over three times the range than its predecessor even in the most demanding of environmental conditions.
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