U.S. Air Force selects MH-139 based on the framework of the Leonardo AW139 helicopter to perform Intercontinental Ballistic Missile protection, government and security forces transport missions
Boeing defense and Leonardo Helicopters announced September 25th that the joint venture with Boeing acting as prime contractor, secured contract approval today on the defense contract valued at $2.4 billion USD that will provide up to 84 helicopters, training devices, and associated support equipment with initial readiness by 2021.
Allesandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo stated “This result is testament to Leonardo’s ability to meet the most stringent requirements of major customers, and a recognition of the Company as a strong, reliable partner and long-established contributor to the US industry” after news of the contract award was made public today.
In a press release from Leonardo on the contract award, Leonardo stated that all helicopters built as part of the award will be built in the USA at Leonardo’s Philadelphia production facility, with additional components to be integrated into the military MH-139 at the Boeing Philadelphia facility in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania. The contract for the MH-139 helicopter was awarded after the U.S. Air Force sought to replace their aging Bell UH-1N Huey fleet. The MH-139 will allow the Air Force to leverage the modern technology, and improved performance and service life offered with the more modern airframe already in use as the AW139.
The AW-139 airframe is already the most popular helicopter in the Leonardo Helicopters fleet of aircraft and is currently used in military, para-public operations, charter, VIP and oil and gas operations worldwide. Leonardo stated there are already 900 AW-139 helicopters in operation globally, with 270 units currently used in government and military missions.
Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said “Today’s announcement is a strong recognition of the world-class quality and competitiveness of our product to meet the most demanding needs of leading customers.”
Leonardo stated that the MH-139 exceeds the Air Force’s speed, payload, range, armament and survivability requirements for protecting ICBM bases, and is perfect for VIP transport. The type features modern design and the best level of affordability with a savings of $1 billion in acquisition and life cycle costs over the life of the fleet.
William Hunt, CEO, AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corporation, said “We are happy that the U.S. Air Force has selected our team to deliver a new fleet of Philadelphia-built MH-139s. Our Air Force deserves the best tools; this is the right helicopter for their mission. The more than $125M investment made by Leonardo in the Philadelphia facility demonstrates that we are fully prepared to execute in support of this contract. We look forward to working with Boeing on this program and we’re committed to deliver according to expectations of the prime contractor, the US Government and taxpayers.”
Mulitple AW139s are already in service in the U.S. performing law enforcement and public service missions in Maryland, New Jersey and California.