Eurocopter UK is to receive an at-least three-year contract to deliver an interim support arrangement for the Royal Air Force's upgraded Puma HC2 support helicopters, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

Outlined in a contract notification on 29 August, the deal will span the period while the enhanced type is being returned to operational use following a major upgrade. Design and qualification work on the project has yet to conclude, "and subsequent authority acceptance and release to service activities will not complete for a further two years", the MoD says. "During this period, only the design organisation for the aircraft can effectively manage and support the safety and interoperability issues arising from the concurrent development and operation of the Puma HC2."

While the MoD's contract includes an option to extend the interim arrangement with Eurocopter by a further 21 months, it notes that other companies will be able to bid for elements of the long-term support package from late 2013.

The RAF is expected to continue operating its modernised fleet of 22 Puma HC2s until 2025.

Source: Flight International