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Boeing building fuselage for MH-139 after UH-1N replacement win

26 September 2018
Boeing is already building the AW139 fuselage that will serve as the foundation of its MH-139, which will replace the US Air Force’s UH-1N helicopters. Source: Boeing

Key Points

  • Boeing is building the first fuselage for its MH-139 aircraft, which won the UH-1N replacement competition
  • The company was awarded a preliminary contract for the first four helicopters

Boeing is already building the fuselage that will go in its first MH-139 after it won the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) UH-1N replacement programme contract on 24 September, according to a company official.

Rick Lemaster, Boeing UH-1N capture team lead, told Jane’s on 25 September that Boeing will be pulling AgustaWestland AW139 fuselages off the production line to match USAF requirements as the programme proceeds. The frame for the AW139 aircraft, upon which the MH-139 is based, will be built in Poland.

Lemaster said it was sensible for Leonardo to build the AW139 fuselage in Europe, as opposed to the US, as Leonardo has a supply chain set up to maximise efficiency and reduce costs. Hydraulics, fuel lines, wiring, landing gear, and other parts will be installed at Leonardo’s AgustaWestland facility in northeast Philadelphia.

The USAF awarded Boeing USD375 million on 24 September, the first part of a potential USD2.4 billion firm-fixed price contract. This first award is for the first four helicopters and includes the integration of non-developmental items (NDI). Boeing beat Sikorsky, which offered its HH-60U, and Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC), which offered a modernised (A-to-L) conversion of UH-60L Black Hawks purchased and converted through the US Army.

The total cost for the UH-1N replacement programme 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, according to a USAF statement.

Boeing’s offer may not have been the lowest of the bids as Lemaster said the USAF ran a best-value competition.

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