Posted: Tue 27th Feb 2024

Airbus Broughton: MoD opens up ‘Invitation to Negotiate’ phase for new military helicopter

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has finally taken a long-awaited next step in the New Medium Helicopter (NMH) Programme, which could bring a significant employment boost to Flintshire.

The MoD has begun the Invitation to Negotiate phase of the project as it looks to award the £1.2 Billion contract to one of the three competing companies.

This next stage in the NMH Programme seeks to enhance the UK’s defence capabilities by replacing the RAF Puma fleet and other military models with a more versatile and efficient medium-lift support helicopter.

Airbus’s bid centres around the H175M helicopter, which would be assembled at the company’s Broughton site, creating hundreds of jobs in the region.

The programme aims to consolidate up to five different aircraft types into one platform, improving operational flexibility for Defence tasks.

The initiative is not only about replacing ageing aircraft but also about streamlining the UK’s defence capabilities in an increasingly complex global landscape.

Airbus has promised to establish a final assembly line for its military version of the H175 helicopter at the Broughton wing site if they win the contract.

This would not only generate jobs but also bring investment and skills development to the area, reinforcing the region’s strategic position in aerospace manufacturing.

The competition, run by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), is expected to be completed by 2025, with the winning bid subject to government approval.

The contenders — Airbus Helicopters UK, Leonardo Helicopters UK, and Lockheed Martin UK — will now prepare detailed proposals for the MoD’s evaluation.

The chosen helicopter will be tasked with supporting a broad spectrum of Defence operations, from combat to humanitarian missions across diverse environments.

Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge said:
“The New Medium Helicopter will provide essential support to our military operations, and we’re pleased to have reached this next important stage of the programme.”

“The programme’s competition includes essential criteria that are key to securing vital rotary wing Operational Independence, allowing us to respond swiftly to emerging threats in a highly contested world.”

An Airbus spokesperson said: “We will offer the H175M helicopter. It is a high capability, low risk solution with outstanding technical and safety specifications, already operating successfully in a range of demanding roles and environments.”

“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.”

“If selected by the UK, the H175M will be made and serviced in Britain by the H175M Task Force – a team of specialists working together to design, manufacture and support the next generation of UK military transport helicopter.”

“Design work will be performed in Belfast, it will be made at Broughton in North Wales, and supported in Scotland and at military bases, creating hundreds of jobs and helping to drive competition and innovation in the UK helicopter industry. It will act as a catalyst for strong export sales, enhancing the UK’s global reputation and bringing hundreds of millions into the economy.”

“Members of the H175M taskforce – Airbus, Boeing Defence UK, Babcock, Spirit AeroSystems, and Pratt & Whitney Canada – are a key part of the UK’s national security and trusted, strategic partners to the UK Government.”

“Airbus Helicopters has a track record of success in delivering for the MoD, a 50-year presence in the UK, and cutting-edge facilities being continually renewed.”

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