UK Cuts New Medium Helicopter Purchase by a Third

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is reducing its much-awaited purchase of New Medium Helicopters (NMH) by a third, representing a major setback in its goal to modernize the country’s aerial fleet.

Industry sources recently revealed to British lawmakers that the defense ministry will procure as few as 30 helicopters, a dramatic reduction from the 44 announced in 2022.

Although no reason was provided, earlier reports claimed the reduction is based on available funding.

From $1.3 billion (excluding 20 percent value added tax), the budget now falls to $1.2 billion including taxes, according to FlightGlobal.

The UK MoD has refused to directly address the matter, saying the “competition remains sensitive.”

About the NHM Program

The UK defense ministry began accepting bids for the NHM program in February 2024.

It said the initiative aims to replace the Royal Air Force’s 23-strong fleet of Puma HC2 transport helicopters, as well as Bell 212s and 412s.

The medium-lift chopper should be able to operate in all environments and carry out missions previously undertaken by five different aircraft.

Three teams have been shortlisted for the program: Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky with its S-70M Black Hawk, Airbus-Boeing with the H175M, and Leonardo with its AW149 helicopter.

Proposals will be evaluated through 2025 and a production contract for a lower quantity of aircraft is expected to be awarded the same year.

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