Airbus Helicopters protests US Navy helicopter trainer award to Leonardo

05 February 2020

Airbus Helicopters is protesting the US Navy’s selection of Leonardo for the service’s new trainer aircraft. Airbus offered its H135. Source: Airbus Helicopters

Key Points

  • Airbus Helicopters is protesting the US Navy's helicopter trainer award to Leonardo
  • The service wants to acquire as many as 130 aircraft

Airbus Helicopters on 3 February filed a bid protest with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) over the US Navy's (USN's) selection of the Leonardo TH-119 for the service's new helicopter trainer.

Airbus believes that certain technical aspects of its proposal were not assessed accurately. Company spokesman James Darcy said on 5 February that Airbus is confident that the USN will consider the H135 the right choice once these technical misunderstandings have been clarified. He declined to elaborate on these technical aspects that Airbus considers inaccurately assessed, but said that the H135 irrefutably meets or exceeds every requirement in the trainer helicopter request for proposal (RFP).

The USN on 13 January awarded Leonardo a USD176.5 million contract to provide 32 of the company's AW119-derived aircraft by the end of October 2021. While the initial contract is for 32 platforms, the USN has a requirement for up to 130 helicopters for the advanced training of USN, US Marine Corps (USMC), and US Coast Guard (USCG) undergraduate helicopter pilots.

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