Westland Puma HC2 (XW216) from the Royal Air Force at the RIAT 2018, RAF Fairford (United Kingdom)
The Aérospatiale SA-330 Puma is a four-bladed, twin-engined medium transport/utility helicopter. The Puma was originally built by Sud Aviation of France, and continued to be made by Aérospatiale. It was also license-built in Romania as the IAR-330; two advanced, unlicensed derivatives, the Denel Rooivalk and Atlas Oryx, were made in South Africa. The Puma was a commercial success and was quickly developed into more advanced models such as the AS332 Super Puma and AS532 Cougar, manufactured by Eurocopter since the early 1990s. These descendants of the Puma remain in production in the 21st century. In 1967, the Puma was selected by the Royal Air Force (RAF), they having been impressed by the Puma's performance. It was given the designation Puma HC1. A significant joint manufacturing agreement was between Aerospatiale and Westland Helicopters of the UK; the close collaboration between the French and British firms would also result in subsequent purchases of Aérospatiale Gazelle by the United Kingdom and the Westland Lynx by France. Under this agreement, Westland manufactured a range of components for the Puma; additionally it also performed the assembly of Pumas ordered by the RAF. A programme to produce an extensive upgrade of the RAF's Pumas saw the first Puma HC2 enter service in late 2012 and was completed by early 2014, enabling the Puma fleet to remain in operational service until 2025. The Puma HC2 medium support helicopter operates under Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) control. The aircraft is used in a variety of combat roles, including the tactical movement of troops, weapons, ammunition and stores on the battlefield, as well as the extraction of casualties and in response to medical emergencies on the frontline. It is also employed during non-combatant evacuations, and humanitarian and disaster relief operations. The aircraft is capable of carrying 16 passengers, 12 fully equipped troops or up to 2 tonnes of freight, the latter moved as internal cargo or underslung, or a mix of the two. It can also be fitted with up to six stretchers for operations in the casualty evacuation or medical emergency response team role. With more powerful engines, greater range than the Puma HC1 and a modern digital cockpit, the Puma HC2 is capable of operating in harsh environments, lifting troops, supplies and humanitarian aid wherever needed, especially under hot-and-high conditions. The aircraft can be prepared for transport by Boeing C-17 Globemaster III in just four hours, flown across the globe, and be rebuilt and returned to flying just as quickly at the destination, making it a highly mobile, deployable battlefield support helicopter.
The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world's largest military air show, held annually over the third weekend in July,
usually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.
The show typically attracts a total of 150.000 to 160.000 spectators over the weekend.
The 2018 Air Tattoo will reflect the 100th anniversary of the RAF with a commemoration
and celebration of a century of service to the United Kingdom and its allies.