Unlikely partners, Airbus and Boeing have joined forces to develop the “H175M Task Force” to sell new H175M helicopters to the UK armed forces.
In an announcement released on Monday, Airbus Helicopters “welcomed” the competitor from the United States, which will participate in the offer of the European group as a provider of services and training.
This is a strategic change by Boeing, which had previously been selected by the British Ministry of Defense as one of four companies competing in the New Medium Helicopter (NMH) program for the United Kingdom.
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Instead of offering its own aircraft, the US manufacturer chose to partner with the European competitor in the proposal to replace the old Airbus Puma HC2 helicopters in service in the country.
“Boeing Defense UK is rightly respected in this country for its long-standing support of the British Chinook and Apache fleets. As a 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,” said Lenny Brown, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in the UK.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Airbus and join their innovative team of aerospace leaders to meet the UK’s New Medium Helicopter requirement”, said Steve Burnell, managing director of Boeing Defense UK.
In addition to Boeing, other companies involved in the Airbus proposal are Babcock (maintenance support provider), Martin-Baker (seating and cabin integration) and Spirit AeroSystems (detailed design and manufacturing).
If the proposal led by the European group is selected by the British Ministry of Defence, the H175M helicopters will be produced on a new assembly line in Broughton, Wales.
Other helicopters in contention for the NHM program are Leonardo’s AW149 and Sikorsky’s S-70M Black Hawk.
Boeing with help from Airbus
The partnership between the two aerospace giants is not unprecedented. Airbus was part of the group that proposed the sale of CH-47 helicopters to the German government, which was accepted last year.
In the arrangement, Airbus will provide technical support for the helicopters, coordinating the work of several other companies involved in the project such as AERO-Bildung, CAE, ESG Elektroniksystem und Logistik-GmbH, Lufthansa Technik, Honeywell Aerospace and Rolls-Royce.