Leonardo’s AgustaWestland is now cleared to build the Navy’s new helicopter trainer after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest of its win by competitor Airbus Helicopters


In January, the Navy awarded Leonardo an initial $176 million contract to produce and deliver 32 TH-73A Advanced Helicopter Training Systems with its bid of the TH-110 helicopter. The aircraft is derived from the company’s AW109 Trekker (Defense Daily, Jan. 13).

Leonardo’s TH-119 bid for the U.S. Navy’s helicopter trainer replacement. (Image: Leonardo)

The Nayv expects to eventually procure up to 130 helicopters to divest from the existing fleet of TH-57 Sea Rangers by 2023. The TH-57s are used to train all Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard rotorcraft pilots.

However, in February Airbus lodged a protest with the GAO. The Navy previously confirmed amid the protest it issued a stop work order while the process was ongoing (Defense Daily, Feb. 7).

Airbus offered the twin-engine H135 and Bell [TXT] pitched the single-engine 407GXi, a descendent of the TH-57.

GAO’s decision did not disclose why it denied the protest, only saying it was covered by a protective order. That means some information in the decision may require redaction before public release. The office said a final redacted decision will be posted when the process is finished.