Boeing on Thursday 2 March unveiled its MH-139 helicopter, which the company will enter in the competition to replace the US Air Force’s UH-1N Huey fleet. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin and its subsidiary Sikorsky are pitching their new HH-60U Ghost Hawk.
The US Air Force is looking to replace its UH-1N Hueys, which currently protect intercontinental ballistic missiles and transport government and security forces. The plan is to replace the current Huey fleet — which entered service in the 1970s — with up to 84 new helicopters.
Boeing’s revealed the MH-139 at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium. The offering is based on the Leonardo Helicopters AW139. “This northeast Philadelphia-built aircraft is sized to meet US Air Force requirements and offers more than 1 billion USD in acquisition and lifecycle expense savings over 30 years when compared to competitor aircraft,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift.
The HH-60U Ghost Hawk shares many commonalities with HH-60W combat search and rescue helos currently in production. A decision on which helicopter will eventually replace the Huey in the US Air Force, is still some time away.
UK defense technology company QinetiQ has signed a deal for four Airbus H125 helicopters as part of its modernisation of the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS). This famous test pilot school is managed in cooperation with the UK’s ministry of Defence. The helos are expected to enter service in early 2019.
Tthe deal is worth 15 million GBP and will see Airbus Helicopters’ UK design team upgrade the H125s with a 3-axis autopilot, dedicated communications equipment and Traffic Awareness Systems among other capabilities,. This is in addition to a Flight Test Instrumentation suite, which is used to test and evaluate aircraft design and performance – a critical part of a test pilot or flight test engineer’s training.
QinetiQ and UK MoD are investing 85 million GBP in ETPS under a strategy to modernise the UK’s Test Aircrew Training capability. Assembling a fleet that provides the very best value and performance is vital to this strategy, according to QinetiQ.
Airbus Helicopters has received a order from Germany for the retrofit of 26 CH-53 heavy transport helicopters. This contract cover replacement of components that are no longer available on the market. In stead, Airbus Helicopters will begin replacing them with up-to-date parts.
The retrofit will guarantee the helicopters’ operation until at least 2030. The process will start in 2017 and should be completed by 2022. Work will be carried out in Donauwörth at Airbus Helicopters’ Military Support Center Germany.
Airheadsfly.com visited the same facility last year, and witnessed how one CH-53 was completely dismantled and inspected for signs of fatigue. The current German fleet consist of forty CH-53GA (Germany Advanced) and 26 older CH-53G models, adding up to 66 in total.
“This order enables both the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) and also our Donauwörth plant to plan ahead with certainty,” said Wolfgang Schoder, CEO of Airbus Helicopters Deutschland. “
Airbus Helicopters has been the German specialist for maintaining, repairing and modernising heavy transport helicopters for decades. We have the necessary infrastructure, highly trained professionals and can guarantee supply for all Bundeswehr models.”
Window shopping again, or more than that this time? After several failed attempts and growing friction with suppliers, Poland is having another go at beefing up its helicopter capabilities. The country is looking for eight anti-submarine choppers plus another eight helos for use by special forces, the ministry of Defense in Warsaw said on Monday 20 February.
Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters and Lockheed Martin have been asked to come up with bids. The new choppers should replace ageing Mi-8 Hip and Mi-14 Haze helicopters that have been in Polish services for decades already, dating back to Eastern Bloc-times.
For Airbus Helicopters, this newest Polish tender will breng back the headaches that came with the selection of the H225 Caracal by Poland back in April 2015. After much hassle, that 3 billion USD deal was finally scrapped last year. Lockheed Martin (after taking over helicopters manufacturer Sikorsky first) then seemed to have the best cards for a Polish helicopter deal. However, that too appeared to be window shopping in the end.
Pakistan as ordered another bacth of AW139 helicopters from Italian company Leonardo. The contract follows a similar order that was signed in May 2016, and once again the exact number of helicopters ordered remains ‘undisclosed’. The latest batch of AW139s will be used to perform utility and transport operations across the nation. Deliveries are expected to start in mid-2017.
According to Leonardo, the AW139 is the perfect fit to Pakistan’s operational environment, delivering capabilities ideal for hot and high operations.
So far, over 970 AW139 helicopters have been sold to more than 240 customers in over 70 nations. Out of those, over 830 have been delivered as of now.