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MH-139 to replace USAF UH-1Ns

Moose

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Boeing-Leonardo team beats out 2 Blackhawk-based competitors.
In an upset, a Boeing-Leonardo team has won a $2.38 billion contract to manufacture a new batch of helicopters to replace the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey used to guard the service’s nuclear missile silos.
"Strong competition drove down costs for the program, resulting in $1.7 billion in savings to the taxpayer,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a statement.
 

Colonial-Marine

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Wow. That is a surprise. I was almost certain the HH-60U would get the contract due to the commonality with the Army's large UH-60M fleet.

I understand wanting to get the best deal but I'm left questioning this decision due to that lack of commonality.
 

yasotay

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Would have bet on H-60 myself, since USAF is buying new HH-60, but its all about the $$. Guess they made the M-139 less expensive to operate. It is a good flying helicopter though.
 

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That $1.7b discount just seems to be too much for the USAF to ignore. It's a very nice helicopter, the assembly is in the US, and it's not going to be deployed outside CONUS so supply chain issues are less worrisome. Probably also great news for the pilots, who will now be experienced on a platform that has a whole bunch of commercial users when they leave the service.
 

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Bell must be grinding their collective teeth about now.
 

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Grey Havoc said:
Bell must be grinding their collective teeth about now.

They didn't even bid, so I don't see how they can complain too much.

https://insidedefense.com/insider/huey-replacement-aircraft-will-not-come-bell
 

Moose

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TomS said:
Grey Havoc said:
Bell must be grinding their collective teeth about now.

They didn't even bid, so I don't see how they can complain too much.

https://insidedefense.com/insider/huey-replacement-aircraft-will-not-come-bell
May have been a reference to the fact that MH-139 used to be AB-139, if they were still a partner then Bell would have been building them for US use instead of the AW plant in Philly getting the work.
 

Grey Havoc

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Exactly. I don't think Bell are even getting any residual royalties from AW139 or related sales.
 

TomS

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Grey Havoc said:
Exactly. I don't think Bell are even getting any residual royalties from AW139 or related sales.

Ah, yeah, that might sting a bit, but I suspect they got some money out of Augusta up front.

On a more typical SP tangent -- have we seen any sign of the official aircraft designation to be used here? Should be H-73, I think. Or is it going to get the very out-of-sequence MH-139?
 

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I have not, but I would be surprised if they went with -139. Even the Coasties' leased A109s got the proper in-sequence MH-68 designation.
 

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Considering that the MH-139 is a bit smaller than the UH-60 did Bell make a mistake when they decided not to submit a UH-1Y variant for the competition?
 

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Colonial-Marine said:
Considering that the MH-139 is a bit smaller than the UH-60 did Bell make a mistake when they decided not to submit a UH-1Y variant for the competition?

As noted above, Bell did look at bidding the UH-1Y and decided that the modifications required were just too expensive. The Yankee is a pricey aircraft, it seems. The MH-139, on the other hand, seems to have been much cheaper than either the H-60 or (probably) the UH-1Y.

Possibly worth mentioning that while this is being pitched as a missile field security helicopter, a sizable portion of the Air Force's UH-1N inventory (about 1/3) are actually VIP/Continuity of Government transports in the DC area. I'd expect the same for the replacement program.
 

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Patrol and VIP transport are missions that really are best suited to helicopter like AW139. It can't lift as much as UH60, but it's got a fairly roomy cabin for its weight class. And it's made to be as cheap to operate as possible, being a commercial helicopter. Given the number of people needed to patrol or transport in VIP configuration, it can do pretty much all that's required from it, and do it cheaper than any UH60 variant. Would have thought UH-1Y can do it as well, cheaper than UH-60, but there you go... Bell thought otherwise for some reason.
 

yasotay

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Some very happy USAF Helo drivers right now.
 

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Colonial-Marine said:
Considering that the MH-139 is a bit smaller than the UH-60 did Bell make a mistake when they decided not to submit a UH-1Y variant for the competition?

As noted above, Bell did look at bidding the UH-1Y and decided that the modifications required were just too expensive. The Yankee is a pricey aircraft, it seems. The MH-139, on the other hand, seems to have been much cheaper than either the H-60 or (probably) the UH-1Y.

Possibly worth mentioning that while this is being pitched as a missile field security helicopter, a sizable portion of the Air Force's UH-1N inventory (about 1/3) are actually VIP/Continuity of Government transports in the DC area. I'd expect the same for the replacement program.

Also the 3745 AW at Yokota AFB Also Fly the UH-1N for PACAF...multi role mission - VIP to medevac, to supporting Japanese civilian authorities.

Don’t forget the MH-139 is also replacing the 23rd FTS Bell TH-1H and UH-1N at Fort Rucker (my photos from J-B Andrews Air and Space Expo back in May). Also 1st Helicopter Squadron celebrated half a century of ops.

I saw first test production MH-139 at Leonardo Philadelphia , after the show and second one being assembled (no photos allowed).

Cheers

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And somehow in commenting on the choice of name, I completely missed that they did indeed assign a completely out of sequence type number, as I speculated they might. WTF, Army?
 

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Maxwell AFB in Alabama is selected to host the mee Leonardo MH-139 Grey Wolf Formal Training Unit (FTU).

 

yasotay

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Guess it's to much of a stretch for the USAF to put the Transition Unit 60 miles south of Maxwell, at the largest helicopter training facility on the planet, where all USAF helicopter pilots receive their initial training.
 

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The Air Force bought eight of the new helicopters in 2021, and previous budget documents called for the purchase of eight more in 2022, before the certification delay.

“The FAA requires the MH-139A to obtain an updated certification, because it is a commercial derivative aircraft with military unique equipment that requires certification,” the service said in a statement. “Technical issues discovered during contractor testing have caused the certification delay. The program office is currently evaluating courses of action and will have a better understanding of the program impact in the coming months.”

 

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Let's hope that Boeing doesn't loose big money in the process of certification.
 

yasotay

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A key insight into how the Pentagon works. The Administration focuses on S&T, so budget lines for advanced SST and eVTOL persist while urgent replacement funding is (at best) postponed. You go where the money is.
This occurs regardless of which administration is in office.
 

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