Boeing MH-139 to replace U.S. Air Force UH-1N Huey fleet

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Boeing photograph by Fred Troilo
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Boeing will provide its MH-139 helicopter and related support to the U.S. Air Force to replace the more than 40-year-old UH-1N “Huey” helicopters used to protect America’s intercontinental ballistic missile bases.

The program awarded Sept. 24 is valued at $2.4 billion for up to 84 helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment.

“Strong competition drove down costs for the program, resulting in $1.7 billion in savings to the taxpayer,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.

The original service cost estimate was $4.1 billion.
“We’re grateful for the Air Force’s confidence in our MH-139 team,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift. “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.”

Today’s award of approximately $375 million is for the first four helicopters and includes the integration of non-developmental items. This additional equipment integrated into the aircraft will ensure the helicopters are ready to meet warfighter needs upon delivery.

The total program cost for the UH-1N Replacement Program reflects the exercise of all options and provides for the acquisition and sustainment of up to 84 MH-139 helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment to replace the legacy UH-1Ns. The new helicopter will be an important tool for Airmen charged with securing and defending the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Air Force will also use the aircraft for training, test and operational support airlift.

The MH-139 derives from the Leonardo AW139, which is used by more than 270 governments, militaries and companies worldwide. Leonardo will assemble the helicopters at its northeast Philadelphia plant, with Boeing integrating military-specific components at its facility south of that city.

The contract also includes operations, maintenance, training systems and support equipment for the MH-139 aircraft.

“We’re proud to provide the U.S. Air Force with solutions across the entire services ecosystem,” said Ed Dolanski, president of U.S. Government Services, Boeing Global Services. “With the AW139 platform’s more than 2 million flight hours and established supply chain, we look forward to applying our expertise to drive cost savings while supporting mission readiness.”

The Air Force pursued a full and open competition to deliver increased capabilities to warfighters. This replacement will provide the necessary speed, range, endurance and carrying capacity needed to meet the requirements of five Air Force major commands, officials said.

“A safe, secure and effective nuclear enterprise is job one,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “It is imperative that we field a capable and effective helicopter to replace UH-1Ns providing security for our ICBMs and nuclear deterrence operations.”

The first operational helicopter delivery is expected in Fiscal Year 2021.

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