Leonardo cleared to resume AHTS as US denies Airbus protest

Leonardo has been cleared to resume work on the USD176.5 million US Navy (USN) training helicopter replacement contract it was awarded in January, after the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) dismissed a protest by rival bidder Airbus Helicopters.

Seen at the Sea-Air-Space conference outside Washington, DC, in May 2019, the TH-119 has become the TH-73A with the award of a US Navy contract to deliver 32 new helicopters to fulfil its AHTS replacement requirement. The service plans to issue contracts for 130 such helicopters in total.

Seen at the Sea-Air-Space conference outside Washington, DC, in May 2019, the TH-119 has become the TH-73A with the award of a US Navy contract to deliver 32 new helicopters to fulfil its AHTS replacement requirement. The service plans to issue contracts for 130 such helicopters in total.  

The Italian manufacturer announced on 14 May that the GAO had denied Airbus Helicopters’ protest of the award to deliver 32 TH-73A training platforms to the USN under the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) requirement.

Airbus had complained that its H135 was dismissed due to “technical misunderstandings”. While the GAO has not yet publicised its reason for the dismissal of the protest, Leonardo said only, “As a result, Leonardo has immediately resumed work on AHTS in Philadelphia, readying the next generation of US naval aviators.” AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corporation will carry out the work.

On 13 January the USN contracted Leonardo to deliver 32 of its AW119-derived TH-73A helicopters by the end of October 2021 (prior to the contract award, Leonardo had designated its USN-specific variant of the AW119 as the TH-119, in-line with the former TH-XX nomenclature of the programme).

In securing the TH-XX requirement, Leonardo beat off competition from Airbus Helicopters and its H135, and from Bell, which was offering the 429 GlobalRanger and 407GXi. When it submitted its offer earlier in 2019, Leonardo noted that its TH-119 was the only single-engined Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)-certified helicopter in production.

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Leonardo has been cleared to resume work on the USD176.5 million US Navy (USN) training helicopter r...

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