Aerial Warfare

Airbus Awarded £122 Million UK Defence Equipment & Support Contract for Six Airbus H145 Helicopters

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Airbus Awarded £122 Million UK Defence Equipment & Support Contract for Six Airbus H145 Helicopters

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Airbus H145 twin-engine light utility helicopter
Airbus H145 twin-engine light utility helicopter

The U.K. Defence Equipment & Support has awarded a £122m contract for six Airbus H145 helicopters to provide aviation support for UK troops in Brunei and the island of Cyprus. The Airbus H145 is familiar to Defence as it is already used as part of the UK Military Flying Training System to train helicopter aircrew in maritime, mountain and search and rescue techniques. In November 2023 the MOD announced its intention to procure the Airbus H145s through the release of a Voluntary Transparency Notification. The additional helicopters will be used to support UK troops conducting jungle training in Brunei, including essential medical evacuation. The aircraft based in the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) on Cyprus will support UK training and military exercises (including joint UK/Republic of Cyprus activities) along with emergency response and aerial firefighting duties.

Aviation support to Brunei and Cyprus has been temporarily delivered by the Puma HC2 since 2022 and the procurement of Airbus H145 as a dedicated asset re-affirms the UK’s long-term commitment to its Defence activities in both locations. The expansion of the UK Defence’s existing Airbus H145 helicopter fleet also provides efficiency and effectiveness opportunities in terms of greater commonality from a training and support perspective across UK Defence. In addition, as a commercial off-the-shelf procurement, the use of the Airbus H145 avoids a bespoke UK solution, providing economies of scale with an existing large worldwide fleet, demonstrating the MOD’s commitment to the principles outlined in the Defence Acquisition Reform. It is expected that the Airbus H145s will take over aviation duties in Brunei and on Cyprus during 2026.

Airbus H145 twin-engine light utility helicopter
Airbus H145 twin-engine light utility helicopter. (Photo by Airbus)

Minister for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge, said:“Reforming defence acquisition to make every pound count and rapidly provide our Armed Forces with critical military capabilities is essential to our nation’s security. As I announced at the International Military Helicopters conference, purchasing the H145s will support our forces in Brunei and on Cyprus with a trusted capability whilst avoiding unnecessary over-speccing, and overspending.”

Director Helicopters at Defence Equipment & Support, Keith Bethell, said:“I am immensely proud of the work done by the Multi Helicopter Platform Delivery Team along with Army Capability and Airbus Helicopters UK in securing contract award for the purchase of six Airbus H145 platforms to provide aviation support to British Forces in Brunei and on Cyprus. This contract is a great example of an agile acquisition process that has secured new modern equipment to meet our Armed Forces enduring requirements, such as Jungle Training in Brunei and a wide range of aviation services to British Forces based on Cyprus.”

The Airbus helicopters H145 (formerly Eurocopter EC145) is a twin-engine light utility helicopter developed and manufactured by Airbus Helicopters. The H145 is a twin-engine aircraft and can carry up to nine passengers along with two crew, depending on customer configuration. Originally designated as the BK 117, the H145 is based upon the MBB/Kawasaki BK 117 C1, which became a part of the combined Eurocopter line-up in 1992 with the merger of Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm’s helicopter division of Daimler-Benz into Eurocopter. The helicopter was earlier named EC145; an updated version, EC145 T2, was renamed H145 in 2015. Military variants of the helicopter have also been produced under various designations, such as H145M or UH-72, and have been used for training, logistics, medical evacuation, reconnaissance, light attack, and troop-transport operations.

Airbus H145 twin-engine light utility helicopter
Airbus H145 twin-engine light utility helicopter. (Photo by Airbus)

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