Puma helicopter

GKN Aerospace has received a contract from Eurocopter UK for the supply of upgraded fuel tanks as part of the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Mk1 Puma helicopter fleet’s life extension programme (LEP).

The new self-sealing fuel tanks manufactured and delivered as part of the undisclosed contract are designed to improve the helicopter’s survivability in the battlefield, through enhancing crew safety against weapons, including heavy machine guns, vehicles and aircraft armaments.

Tanks are integrated with the company’s proven, ballistically tolerant technology, which is capable of providing protection against 7.62mm to 20mm rounds.

As well as supplying self-sealing fuel tanks for the UK’s AW101 and AW159 helicopters fleet, the company also provides similar technology for a range of fighting vehicles, including the Supacat Jackal II high mobility vehicle.

"The first upgraded Puma HC Mk2 helicopter was handed over to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in September 2012."

GKN Aerospace – Portsmouth general manager Richard Dove said: "This contract with Eurocopter UK brings greater commonality to the UK military’s self-sealing fuel tank capability, effectively harmonising technology across platforms and ensuring efficient in-theatre logistic support.”

Eurocopter is upgrading the RAF‘s fleet of 24 Puma helicopters under the multimillion pound LEP contract awarded in September 2009, with the aim to further extend their service life from 2012 until 2025.

Upgrades include integration of two Turbomeca Makila engines, new gearboxes and tail rotors, new engine controls, digital autopilot, a flight management system, an improved defensive aids suite and ballistic protection for helicopter crew and passengers.

The first upgraded Puma HC Mk2 helicopter was handed over to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in September 2012, whereas two are currently undergoing flight testing at the company’s facility in Romania. The helicopter is expected to enter operational service this year.

Initial shipment of new fuel tanks for integration and testing purposes took place in February 2013, while the actual delivery schedule remained undisclosed.

Image: Royal Air Force’s Puma HC Mk2 helicopter during flight. Photo courtesy of ©Eurocopter / RR.

Defence Technology