A Jupiter/H145 helicopter from 202 Squadron flies over RAF Valley, Wales (UK MoD)

BELFAST — The United Kingdom has ordered six H145 helicopters from Airbus destined for missions in Brunei and Cyprus, five months after selecting the aircraft for procurement.

Defence Equipment and Support, the UK’s military procurement arm, announced the £122 million ($152 million) contract on Thursday, noting that the new helicopters will undertake their “overseas” operations starting in 2026. The rotorcraft are scheduled for delivery next year, said Airbus in a press release today.

Both the entry to service and delivery timeframes are out of step with an original tender from the UK MoD, which first revealed the H145 selection and had said the new helicopters would “deliver capability from 2024.”

The fleet of light-twin rotorcraft will replace Airbus Puma HC2 types which have been temporarily based in Brunei for British Army training and the island of Cyprus in support of Royal Air Force search and rescue missions.

The Puma took on those roles after the retirement of Bell 212 (Brunei) and Bell 412 rotorcraft (Cyprus), which were initially set to be replaced under the UK’s New Medium Helicopter (NMH) program.

London has settled for a reduced rotary capability by only ordering six helicopters for those foreign based missions, two less than the combined numbers for the 212 and 412 fleets.

“The aviation tasks in Brunei and Cyprus requires 3 aircraft in each location,” said a UK MoD spokesperson in a statement to Breaking Defense today.

“The Airbus H145 fleet size requirement in each location remains consistent with the number of Bell 212 and Bell 412 that were based in Brunei and Cyprus respectively under legacy arrangements.”

The H145 helicopters, designated Jupiter HC2 in British service, are due to serve “in parallel” with 29 H135 and 7 other H145 helicopters from the UK’s Defence Helicopter Training School, responsible for British military pilot training, as part of the UKMFTS [Military Flying Training System] effort, added Airbus.

“The enlarged H145 fleet brings economies of support costs and substantially reduces pilot conversion training time,” said the manufacturer.

The original November 2023 tender also includes three years of support services, with an option for an additional six months.