UK Seeks Proposals for $1.3B New Medium Helicopter Program

The UK Ministry of Defence is now accepting bids for its 1 billion pound ($1.3-billion) New Medium Helicopter (NMH) program.

Announced at the International Military Helicopter conference in London, the bidding phase will see industry partners submit proposals for a medium-lift rotary-wing aircraft that can operate in all environments.

It must be able to perform defense tasks previously undertaken by five different aircraft, including combat and humanitarian missions.

Interested bidders are encouraged to prioritize the design and export value of the NMH, as the UK will consider selling it to other countries for improved interoperability.

“The New Medium Helicopter contract will secure the vital operational independence we require, as well as investing in UK skills for the long term,” the Ministry of Defence stated.

A total of 44 NMHs are expected to be delivered to the UK military to replace Puma helicopters, as well as the country’s aging Bell 212 and Airbus Dauphin choppers.

Potential Bidders

Lockheed Martin and its subsidiary Sikorsky will reportedly offer the S-70M Black Hawk helicopter, which can transport 12 fully-equipped soldiers.

In service with 34 countries apart from the US, Lockheed said it believes the utility chopper is the “best solution” for the UK’s NMH program.

Airbus is also teaming up with Boeing to pitch the H175M – a militarized version of the commercial H175 chopper.

The twin-engine helicopter can accommodate 18 passengers, has an operational range of 600 nautical miles (690 miles/1,111 kilometers), and can fly at up to 150 knots (277 kilometers/172 miles per hour).

“It will provide exceptional value for money, with low through-life costs and require minimal training time for pilots due to its cockpit commonality with the Airbus helicopters already used to train all UK military pilots,” an Airbus spokesperson told Breaking Defense.

Italian defense giant Leonardo is also expected to vie for the program with its AW149 helicopter, which can carry up to 16 fully-equipped troops and support combat, logistics, search and rescue, and maritime patrol missions.

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