In the last quarter of this year the initial tooling for an AW149 production line will be delivered to Leonardo UK's helicopter research, test, and manufacturing facility at Yeovil. The company is making this investment so that the factory will be ready to meet the UK Ministry of Defence’s timeframe for receiving the New Medium Helicopter, for which the AW149 is a candidate. The stated in-service date is 2025.
“From the outset of this competition, Leonardo has committed to the establishment of an AW149 production line at our Yeovil site,” said Adam Clarke, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters UK. “This investment into the line is our company’s ‘declaration of readiness’ to support the UK MOD in its requirement to have the NMH in service in 2025. Furthermore, this investment further de-risks our program and highlights our willingness to support the UK customer now, should Leonardo be successful with its bid.”
Leonardo UK already manufactures the dynamic and transmission components of the AW149. The company also recently built a number of AW189s at Yeovil. This model shares a common aircraft baseline—as well as engines, drivetrain, blades, digital automatic flight control, and flight management systems—with the AW149, and this experience can be brought into the new line if the type is selected for the NMH requirement.
Leonardo responded to the MOD’s Pre-Qualification Questionnaire in June and believes that it has the strongest commercial and social value offering of any bidder, as well as meeting performance and operational requirements. The company says that more than 70 companies across the UK are in the industrial team and supply chain and that their offer includes 60 to 70 percent UK content. The latest company to join the team is Helitune, with more to be announced in due course.