Puma HC2 fitment trial a success
Trials have been taking place which have seen the Royal Air Force (RAF) load Puma HC2 helicopters onto an A400M Atlas transport aircraft for the first time.
Taking place at RAF Brize Norton, home to the UK’s fixed-wing transport fleet, the trial saw the part dismantled Puma loaded into the A400M’s hold. This fitment trial is crucial as the A400M is set to play a key role in the RAF’s haulage fleet with 22 aircraft thought to be operational by the end of 2018. The A400M will take over from the larger Boeing C-17 Globemaster, although eight of these aircraft will remain in service.
Despite being operational in it’s HC1 fit-out since 1971, the RAF took the decision to upgrade the Puma helicopters to the HC2 standard rather than retire them due to the fact that they could be transported on the A400M without being heavily dismantled. This ability to be transported in a largely complete state means that the Puma can be quickly deployed and turned around at its destination thus offering faster response times for the RAF.
The success of this trial was highlighted on the RAF Brize Norton Twitter feed where pictures of the Puma HC2 show it loaded into the cargo hold of the A400M.