Boeing and Italy’s Leonardo have teamed up to enter the US Air Force’s UH-1N Huey replacement competition and will offer a militarized version of the Italian firm’s AW139 helicopter.
The aircraft, dubbed the MH-139, will need to incorporate a number of modifications to bring it in line with the service’s survivability specifications, DefenseNews reported Thursday.
The team also hopes that leveraging Leonardo subsidiary AgustaWestland’s hot AW139 production line in Philadelphia will result in the lowest-cost entry.
“The lower operating cost, the increased reliability, the improved maintainability all will translate into savings for the Air Force,” Rick Lemaster, Boeing’s director of tiltrotor business development, said in a February briefing to reporters ahead of the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium.
Boeing and Leonardo estimate that the MH-139 will cost more than a billion less than competitors’ offerings over a 30-year life cycle.
The MH-139 can meet Air Force requirements to carry nine fully equipped troops for an unrefueled range of 225 nautical miles.
The Air Force plans to buy at least 84 helicopters to replace its fleet of UH-1N Hueys, and the service has put a premium on meeting requirements at the lowest possible cost. However, all of the competitors would need to incorporate non developmental technologies to meet those standards.
Boeing and Leonardo will have to beat Sikorksy’s HH-60U, a Black Hawk derivative that the Lockheed Martin subsidiary has already produced in small quantities for the Air Force.
The UH-1N replacement competition is widely seen as Sikorsky’s to lose, as the service initially planned to sole source Black Hawks before opening the competition up to other vendors.