Royal Air Force crews have started flying training sorties using the service’s newly-upgraded Eurocopter Puma HC2 transport helicopters.
Seven of an eventual 24 improved HC2s have been delivered to RAF Benson in Oxfordshire so far, the Ministry of Defence says, with crews from its 33 and 230 squadrons now training on the type. “The remainder will be handed over during the next two years,” it adds.
Modified from the RAF’s previous Puma HC1 configuration, the new standard features more powerful engines – enabling extended range performance, plus glass cockpit avionics and improved ballistic protection.
The MoD says that around £78 million ($126 million) of the life-extension programme’s £260 million value will be performed by UK companies, with the rest of the work being performed by Eurocopter personnel in France and Romania.
Initial service experience with the HC2 is “outperforming expectations”, according to Puma Force Commander Gp Capt Nigel Colman.