Say Hello to the Air Force’s Huey Replacement.
The Boeing MH-139
(Photo creds: Boeing)
In an upset, a Boeing-Leonardo team has won a $2.38 billion contract to manufacture a new batch of helicopters to the Airforce’s fleet of UH-1N Hueys.
The Boeing MH-139 is the militarized version of the commercial AW139 manufactured by Leonardo subsidiary AgustaWestland in Philadelphia, beat out Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Sierra Nevada Corp., which both offered versions of the UH-60 Black Hawk that some epxerts saw as the service’s aircraft of choice going into the competition.
As such, the Sept. 24 contract announcement is a major victory for the Boeing-Leonardo team, which received an initial $375 million for the first four helicopters and the integration of military-specific items needed to bring the AW139 to the Air Force’s requirements
The Air Force plans on buying 84 new helicopters over the course of the program, with the first aircraft being delivered in fiscal year 2021.
“We’re grateful for the Air Force’s confidence in our MH-139 team,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager for Boeing’s vertical lift business. “The MH-139 exceeds mission requirements, it’s also ideal for VIP transport, and it offers the Air Force up to $1 billion in acquisition and lifecycle cost savings.”
Throughout the course of the competition, Sikorsky’s HH-60U was seen as the frontrunner by experts who pointed to the fact that the Air Force had initially sought to sole-source UH-60 Black Hawks to replace the UH-1N. The U-model was differentiated from the Army’s Black Hawk by the addition of a rescue hoist and electro-optical sensor among other modifications.
(Photo creds: Sikorsky)