The U.S. Navy announced on Jan. 13, 2020 that AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corporation (Leonardo) was awarded a contract for $176.5M for the production of 32 TH-73A helicopters in support of the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) program.
“Today marks a great team effort to procure and deliver a helicopter trainer for the next generation of helicopter and tilt-rotor pilots for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard,” said James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. “I’m proud of the aggressive work the team did to leverage the commercial industrial base to get this capability to the warfighters, and our nation, at the best value to the taxpayer. This effort is key to ensure the readiness of our Naval Aviators for decades to come.”
Five proposals were submitted for the contract. The new firm fixed price TH-73A contract was awarded on a best-value tradeoff basis with a base and three one-year options. The base year contract is for $176.5M for 32 aircraft. The total contract value is $648.1M for the procurement of 130 aircraft. Helicopter deliveries are scheduled to begin in calendar year 2020 and continue through calendar year 2024.
The new helicopter will meet advanced rotary wing and intermediate tilt-rotor training requirements for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard through 2050. The TH-73A will be manufactured in United States with assembly taking place, through FAA Airworthiness certification, in the contractor’s FAA Part 21 facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In addition to the TH-73A, the contract includes initial spares, peculiar support equipment, flyaway kits, hoists, sling loads, data in excess of Commercial Form Fit Function (FFF) / Operations Maintenance Instructional Training (OMIT) Data, as well as ancillary instructor pilot & maintenance personnel training. The award is the culmination of a competitive source selection process supported by personnel from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA).
“The new Leonardo TH-73A helicopters are the cornerstone of AHTS, which is the planned replacement to address the capability and capacity gaps of the current aging TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopter training platform,” said Capt. Todd St. Laurent, Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems (PMA-273) Program Manager. “The TH-73A will provide a modern helicopter training platform that will serve rotary and tiltrotor training requirements into the foreseeable future. These new helicopters will ensure the Navy has capacity to train several hundred aviation students per year at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field in Milton, Florida.”
Leonardo won the hotly contested contract for the Navy Initial Training aircraft after a procurement contract that lasted over a decade through several administrations, beating out competitors Bell Helicopter who fielded the Bell 407 GXi and Airbus, who pitched the EC-135 variant.