RAF commences training operations with Puma Mk2
The Royal Air Force has begun training on the newly upgraded Puma Mk2 helicopters from RAF Benson in Oxford. Seven of the 24 aircraft being upgraded under the £260 million programme have been delivered to the RAF so far.
The upgrade programme is carrying out improvements to the Puma helicopters, installing new engines which give them 35 per cent more power and improved fuel efficiency to allow them to fly faster and twice as far as the Puma Mk1; as well as digitised glass cockpits and upgraded LCD instruments.
The aircraft, with improved ballistic protection, is capable of carrying up to 16 fully equipped troops. Twin cargo doors and low rotor downwash is used for transporting personnel and equipment in and out of confined urban environments. The Puma Mk2 can be transported in a C-17 for deployment anywhere in the world on short timescales.
Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence, Equipment, Support and Technology, said: ‘With its greater range, endurance and payload the Puma Mk2 helicopter will give the RAF significantly enhanced, agile capability in support of combat and humanitarian operations in even the most austere conditions.
‘In 2012 we committed to spending £12.1 billion to ensure our helicopter capability remains up to date. The delivery of the Puma Mk2 will further strengthen our world class helicopter fleet which recently saw the introduction of the upgraded Merlin Mk2 and upgraded Chinook Mk4s.’
Puma Force Commander Group Captain Nigel Colman, added: ‘The Puma is a remarkable aircraft and its ability to operate in urban and harsh conditions will see it play a key role in any future deployments. Needless to say the Puma Force are really enjoying getting to grips with the aircraft and are reporting that it is outperforming expectations.’
The remaining Puma Mk2 aircraft will be handed over during the next two years ahead of the helicopters entering service in 2015.
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