UK to stretch Puma life-extension study with Eurocopter

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The UK is to expand a study into a proposed life-extension project that would keep most of the Royal Air Force's current Puma HC1 utility helicopters in service until 2022, with Eurocopter to receive a follow-on contract to continue work until late November.

To be signed from mid-year, the more than £20 million ($39 million) deal will enable Eurocopter to prepare an integration test rig at Marignane, France for proposed new avionics which would be integrated with the modernised Puma HC2 fleet in a subsequent upgrade programme which to extend the Puma fleet's life by a decade.

Work would also include "early design activity and additional support development", says the UK Ministry of Defence.