Airbus Teams With Boeing On UK H175M Proposal


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Apr 29, 2023

Airbus Teams With Boeing On UK H175M Proposal

ATLANTA—Boeing has emerged as a surprise teammate in Airbus’ efforts to offer a

ATLANTA—Boeing has emerged as a surprise teammate in Airbus’ efforts to offer a military version of its H175 super-medium helicopter for the UK's New Medium Helicopter (NMH) contest.

Boeing Defense UK will be the training services provider in Airbus’ H175 Task Force if the platform is selected. The British Defense Ministry's requirement aims to find a replacement for the UK's fleet of Airbus Pumas and Bell 412s operated by the Royal Air Force and the Bell 212s and Airbus Dauphins flown by the British Army Air Corps.

Boeing joins engineering firm Babcock, aircraft seating provider Martin-Baker, as well as Spirit Aerosystems and H175 engine-maker Pratt & Whitney Canada in Airbus’ teaming arrangement, which was announced at last year's Royal International Air Tattoo. Airbus has noted that Spirit has begun extensive detailed design and manufacturing activities on the H175M.

"Boeing Defense UK is rightly respected in this country for its long-standing support of the British Chinook and Apache fleets," says Lenny Brown, managing director of Airbus Helicopters in the UK. "As training services partner it completes a rock-solid line-up of UK-based first-tier aerospace partners who bring a guarantee of world-class service provision to the UK Ministry of Defense for decades to come."

Steve Burnell, managing director of Boeing Defence UK, said Boeing was looking forward to using its "current expertise" to ensure "availability and readiness for the UK's future helicopter fleets."

Boeing was named last November as one of four preferred bidders in the NMH contest even though it was not offering an aircraft platform.

The two companies have worked together on similar teaming arrangements in other countries—in Germany, for example, where Airbus is one of the members of the Chinook Deutschland Industry Team and will support the CH-47 in Germany.

The UK Defense Ministry launched the £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) NMH program last May and aims to purchase up to 44 commercial/military off the shelf rotorcraft with initial service entry expected by January 2025.

However, procurement officials have yet to launch the full competitive phase of the contest as they work to secure cross-government approvals to enter the next phase of the competition. One of the ministry's aims for the project is to "bolster the industrial base" for the helicopter industry and contribute to UK prosperity.

Airbus claims to be answering that by proposing to build the aircraft on an assembly line to be established at Airbus’ factory in Broughton, Wales—best known for wing production for the company's airliners.

Another NMH competitor, Leonardo Helicopters, is offering its AW149 and planning to produce the aircraft at its facility in Yeovil, England, while Sikorsky is offering Polish-made S-70M Black Hawks with cooperation from UK-based companies involved in manufacturing, training and through-life support.

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.