The Army’s battle-winning capability is to be bolstered with a new generation of high-speed medium helicopters.
The announcement was made in the Defence Command Paper, released earlier this month as part of the Integrated Review.
It will form part of the Army’s programme of transformation, Future Soldier, which will deliver an Army that is leaner, lighter, faster to respond, and more effectively matched to current and future threats.
The New Medium Helicopter Programme will see four of the medium-sized helicopters currently in service across Defence replaced by one new helicopter. This will include the Bell 212 that is used by the Army Air Corps in the jungle areas of Brunei.
A broad range of recent advances in technology, production methods and operational concepts will be used in the design of the bespoke medium helicopter that will bring maximum capability and cost saving benefits to all three services, and keep the Army at the leading edge of technology.
The helicopters will be operated jointly by the Army and RAF under Joint Helicopter Command and will be able to be deployed rapidly and access terrain which is less accessible to heavy lift helicopters. As part of Future Soldier, the Army will become more agile, more integrated and more expeditionary, with more of the Army deployed across the globe more of the time.
Work on this programme is at an early stage with effort primarily focused on developing and refining key user requirements. Details in relation to the procurement strategy, basing locations, fleet size, delivery schedule and organisational structure are all being assessed.
This is an exciting time as we seek a new medium helicopter as part of the Future Soldier vision and the transformation of the British Army.