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UK's Puma replacement


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On 3/29/2021 at 6:04 PM, wellsprop said:

It makes me wonder how good the Black Hawk would be in the SAR role... EDIT: forgive my ignorance, turns out the Black Hawk has been doing SAR forever. Although it only has 2/3 the range of the 149...

The Blackhawk was touted as a Wessex replacement for SAR in 1987.  When Westland sent their WS-70 demonstrator to Finningley, it received a unanimous thumbs down from the SAR aircrew for the lack of cabin space. 

Regards

Tim 

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On 4/1/2021 at 8:43 AM, Agent K said:

Wasn't the Mk 2 a (relatively) recent upgrade with new engines and a glass cockpit? notwithstanding the structure and a lot of the mechanical bits would still be original (design) I suspect.

Puma HC2 was very much the late life update that should have occurred 20 years earlier.  The main reasons were to get an effective engine control system and replace some very old wiring and avionics.  Puma was chosen for upgrade in part as it was designed for hot and high, rather than Sea King which was optimised for sea level (and yes ,the Carson blade upgrade did make SK better but Puma HC2 has lots of excess power from its Makilas.  This gave the UK a better mix than just SK and Chinook.  Ideally, the RAF and Junglies would have had a modern medium SH cab in 2012, and Merlin HC3 would have specialised in CSAR.  However, money...    Lets hope that the funding allows better than do minimum this time.

Regards

Tim

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4 hours ago, TimB said:

Puma HC2 was very much the late life update that should have occurred 20 years earlier.  The main reasons were to get an effective engine control system and replace some very old wiring and avionics.  Puma was chosen for upgrade in part as it was designed for hot and high, rather than Sea King which was optimised for sea level (and yes ,the Carson blade upgrade did make SK better but Puma HC2 has lots of excess power from its Makilas.  This gave the UK a better mix than just SK and Chinook.  Ideally, the RAF and Junglies would have had a modern medium SH cab in 2012, and Merlin HC3 would have specialised in CSAR.  However, money...    Lets hope that the funding allows better than do minimum this time.

Regards

Tim

Agree 20 years late. Was Sk optimised for sea level hmm Afghanistan would say not ?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Would the AW189 be a better option? I see the Coastguard examples floating around here in East Kent. 

 

Keith

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3 hours ago, Britman said:

Would the AW189 be a better option? I see the Coastguard examples floating around here in East Kent. 

 

Keith

The AW189 is the civil version developed from the military AW149.

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On 4/16/2021 at 12:40 AM, junglierating said:

Agree 20 years late. Was Sk optimised for sea level hmm Afghanistan would say not ?

 

Let it go! While the Sea King was pretty good at its intended role, it was aggressively average at everything else. Funny old thing, the qualities which make a good ASW aircraft don't really suit various other roles. And like every type apart from the Chinook it struggled with hot and high operations - to claim it was optimized for anything other than sea level is absurd! I'm not saying that it couldn't or didn't achieve anything - far from it - but that is down to the skill of the crews more than the ability of the airframe. The Puma has always been a much better battlefield helicopter design (as it should be - that was the main military role from the outset) but until the HC2 upgrade, it suffered from several vices which limited its effectiveness. As it is now, it's really very good at what it does. The only thing it can't do much of is deck operations - although most Puma crews would put that on the list of pros rather than cons... 

 

Returning to the thread, the right answer is emphatically not more Chinooks. As others have pointed out, the Chinook is big (NB still a medium lift helicopter, fact fans), noisy, possessed of terrible downwash - and hideously expensive to run. Look at the fleets which are being replaced and then look at a Chinook! Having just ordered more Chinooks to replace the very tired original batch, I cannot see any further order for Chinooks in the short to medium term.

 

Another suggestion which I cannot envisage for many decades is the unmanned route. While many roles in military flying can be done effectively by RPAS (or will be able to before long), moving troops on and off the battlefield is not one of them. The problem is not the technology, but the moral aspect - similar to the self-driving car quandary, but more complex and even less likely to be resolved. If I was an FJ or ISR pilot, I might be looking into alternative employment, but I don't think that helicopter crews need worry any time soon. 

 

The answer may of course be nothing at all - not my idea of fun, but to a bean counter, JHC will still possess three types of helicopters of different sizes with passenger seats even after the Pumas have gone. The finer points of supporting the Army are likely to elude those who make the decisions.

 

Of the list of the four most likely contenders, none of them is ideal (some things never change) but the AW149 is probably the best, and also the most likely. Frankly, I would take any of them over not getting a replacement at all (even NH90s - and I hear there may be some low hours pre-loved examples coming onto the market soon...), but I'll believe it when I see it. Time will tell... 

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Let it go 😁😁I did in 2016 when we got those cast offs from the RAF still a helicopter is better than no helicopter and for its faults Merlin has legs and speed but not really a battlefield helo.

As for Puma well up until the engine mods etc it really was a mediocre battlefield helo ...could bearly lift more than a section ...that said it has good ideas like doors port and starboard and the lift frame through the gearbox...Sea king could still lift and carry more kit and people.

A lot of what you say j agree with infact we have been subjected to the same propaganda. 

My fear is that as always the Puma replacement will be a compromise and perhaps not the best one ....not sure any of the options are the answer ....I hope for my LH friends its the Yeovil choice I guess (far too complex not agricultural enough but....) if only to stave of redundancies. NH90 er no ,Blackhawk old, S92 ....what do the coastguard say?.Ah well its above my pay grade and I dont have to fix em anymore 

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