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News From Paris: Eurocopter Wins UK Puma Upgrade Contract

Will Allow Fleet To Remain In Service Thru 2022

Eurocopter announced this week it was recently awarded an Assessment Phase (AP) contract by the UK's Ministry of Defense, for the Life Extension Program for the RAF's fleet of Puma Mk1 helicopters.

The program will focus on a comprehensive upgrades to the Puma fleet, including new Turbomeca 'Makila' engines, glass cockpits, and new communications, navigation and defensive systems for up to 35 of the RAF Puma Mk1 helicopters.

The upgrades should allow the Pumas -- to be designated Puma HC Mk2 -- to be capable of remaining in service until around 2022. Their performance and payload will be significantly enhanced, particularly in hot and high conditions, according to Eurocopter officials.

"The contract represents an important new phase in our relationship with Eurocopter," said DG Helicopter's Jonathan Lyle. "It offers the RAF the prospect of significantly enhanced Puma capability. We look forward to working with Eurocopter in the integrated Joint Project Office and to building a better understanding of how to enhance and sustain the UK Puma fleet into the future."

The Assessment Phase, scheduled for the next 12 months, will consider the detailed technical, operational and cost implications of the upgrade. Successful completion of the AP will lead to a full Development and Manufacture contract for delivery of the main program.

In a development reflecting the Defence Industrial Strategy's emphasis on an improved business environment, Eurocopter and the MOD will manage the AP in a Joint Project Office, soon to open in Bristol. As the backbone of the RAF's fleet of medium lift helicopters, the Pumas continue to play a vital role in operational theatres such as Iraq, delivering very high operational readiness levels.

FMI: www.eurocopter.com

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