The Air Force is looking for opportunities to accelerate the UH-1N helicopter replacement program, according to a service spokesman.
Maj. Robert Leese said in a recent email the service plans to award a contract in fiscal year 2018 with initial aircraft deliveries to the first operational base anticipated in the fiscal years 2020-21 timeframe. Leese said the total procurement quantities, schedule to contract award and cost will be finalized when the acquisition strategy is approved in the August to September timeframe. Leese did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The Air Force, Leese said, is preparing detailed acquisition program strategies and timelines for the UH-1N replacement, including the development of a draft request for proposals (RFP). He added the Air Force will know more on the draft RFP release once an acquisition strategy is approved.
Service officials once deemed replacing the UH-1Ns helicopters that perform the nuclear missions so important that they originally wanted to award a contract without competition. But the Air Force reconsidered and decided to hold a competition for new aircraft.
Possible bidders include Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] Sikorsky, Bell Helicopter Textron [TXT], Airbus and Leonardo. A replacement contract could run in the range of $800 million to $900 million.