UK Gazelle helicopters to have lives extended until 2025
IHS Jane's have reported today, 26 July 2016, that the Westland Gazelle AH.1 is to remain in service with the British Army Air Corps until 2025, making the type 54 years old when it is due to be retired.
The British Army's Westland Gazelle AH.1 observation and utility helicopters are to remain in service for another nine years, according to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
This extension will take the Gazelle past its 50th anniversary in UK military service in 1971 and make it the oldest helicopters in active UK inventory.
Details of the extension emerged after the MoD confirmed to IHS Jane's on 22 July that it is to run a new competition for all elements of the helicopter's in-service support, in time for new contracts to be in place to be re-let by March 2018.
The new contracts to keep the veteran helicopters in UK Army Air Corps (AAC) service will run from 2018 to 2025.
The AAC currently operates a fleet of 34 Gazelles spread between a flight in Canada supporting the Suffield training site, manned aerial surveillance tasks with 5 Regiment AAC at Aldergrove airport in Northern Ireland, and special forces support at RAF Odiham in Hampshire. Training takes place at the Army Aviation Centre at Middle Wallop in Hampshire.
According to data released by the MoD in March, some 15 Gazelle were routinely undergoing maintenance and 19 in daily use.
Depth maintenance support and overhauls are currently provided by Cobham Aviation Services and Airbus Helicopters have a contract to provide post-design services (PDS) and logistic support for Gazelle. Leonardo Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland) also provide PDS support for the UK-specific parts of the aircraft and Safran Helicopters provide PDS and logistic support to the engine.
Photo via Chris Globe/The Gazelle Squadron