Eurocopter has handed over the first upgraded Puma HC2 helicopter to the UK Ministry of Defence under a £300 million ($480 million) contract dating from 2009.
Featuring new uprated Turbomeca Makila 1A1 engines and glass cockpit avionics, the first enhanced example will be transferred to Qinetiq's Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, military test and evaluation facility to conduct further flight trials.
So far, three Pumas have received the upgrades, which also includes the incorporation of a secure communications suite, new defensive aids and ballistic protection for crew and passengers.
Eurocopter's first internal qualification of the Puma HC2 was achieved on 6 July. "Further enhancements to its mission capabilities [are] planned over the coming months," says the airframer.
"This delivery milestone marks another important accomplishment in a programme that is vital for the UK's combat capabilities, and it results equally from Eurocopter's commitment to its success and our close co-operation with the Ministry of Defence," says Markus Steinke, the managing director of Eurocopter UK.
A total of 22 Royal Air Force-operated Puma HC1s are being modified to the new standard. The enhanced type is due to remain in operational service until 2025.