Home to 59 twin-engine UH-1N helicopters, The Air Force is preparing for an increase in their current inventory. The existing helicopters first entered service 1970. They are currently being used for security at a number of nuclear missile sites. The Air Force defense contractors are currently in preparation to release proposals for more than 80 helicopters to be added to the existing inventory. This comes under service’s UH-1N Huey Replacement Program. A draft request for proposals is being anticipated for release in April, with the final plan to follow this summer. A contract is planned to be presented in 2018, with deliveries to begin one year later.
The service had come across some resistance from Congress for a previous contract to be awarded to Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky for UH-60M Black Hawks. After failure to complete the initial contract, the Air Force made the decision to complete this program last spring. There were some delays by about 2 months, but the requirement for 84 helicopters within the contract is expected to stay the same.
In February Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky announced that it will offer Black Hawk helicopter for the program, in addition to three HH-60Us the service already possesses. The U-model has modifications which include an electro-optical sensor and a rescue hoist. Sikorsky’s Black Hawk offers a tested and proven helicopter that the Air Force already has in inventory in compliance with the requirements of the UH-1N Huey Replacement Program. Sikorsky states this is a safe solution for the Air Force. It will result in considerable savings and enable to service to support two vital national defense missions.
In addition to the Sikorsky offer, on February 25, Boeing also announced that it would be making an offer for the AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopter for the requirement. Boeing collaborated with Italy’s Leonardo Helicopters for this offer. Boeing would serve as the prime contractor for an MH-139 variant, which is built by Leonardo.
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