Leonardo Will Provide Navy's Next Training Helicopter

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Leonardo has been awarded a contract for the production and delivery of 32 TH-73A helicopters, initial spares, support and dedicated equipment. (Courtesy Leonardo Helicopters)
Leonardo has been awarded a contract for the production and delivery of 32 TH-73A helicopters, initial spares, support and dedicated equipment. (Courtesy Leonardo Helicopters)

The U.S. Navy has awarded aerospace company Leonardo a $176 million firm-fixed price contract to replace its TH-57B/C Sea Ranger helicopters.

Leonardo, through AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corp., will build and deliver an initial 32 TH-73A aircraft and associated equipment based on the company's singled-engined TH-119 design, the Defense Department announced Monday. The service expects to buy 130 aircraft, for a total contract value of $648 million, Navy officials said.

The Sea Ranger helicopters, operational since the 1980s, are used to train pilots in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

The Pentagon expects deliveries to begin in October 2021 and continue through 2024, the Navy said.

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"The new Leonardo TH-73A helicopters are the cornerstone of AHTS, which is the planned replacement to address the capability and capacity gaps of the current aging TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopter training platform," said Capt. Todd St. Laurent, Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems (PMA-273) program manager, in a news release..

"The TH-73A will provide a modern helicopter training platform that will serve rotary and tiltrotor training requirements into the foreseeable future," he added.

"Our plan since day one has been to offer the U.S. Navy the training capabilities they asked for, without compromise," said William Hunt, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters in Philadelphia. "We are honored to deliver on that promise, build the new fleet in Philadelphia and maintain it from Milton, Florida."

The service trains several hundred aviation students per year at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton.

The Navy chose the TH-119, a derivative of the commercial AW119, over Airbus' version of the single-engine H135 and Bell Helicopter's 407GXi. Five proposals in total were submitted for the contract, the service said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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