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Boeing to Enter Huey Replacement Competition With MH-139 Variant

Boeing Co. on Thursday announced it will offer an MH-139 helicopter variant, based on Leonardo-Finmeccanica's AgustaWestland AW139, for the Air Force's UH-1N Huey helicopter replacement program.

"This Northeast Philadelphia-built aircraft is sized to meet U.S. Air Force requirements and offers more than $1 billion in acquisition and lifecycle expense savings over 30 years when compared to competitor aircraft," David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift, said in a release. The company unveiled its concept at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

The multi-role aircraft is a 15-seat, medium-sized twin-engined helicopter. More than 250 of the aircraft have been assembled and delivered from the Philadelphia plant, Boeing said.

"The fact that the AW139 is being built today on an active production line will speed it to meet the time-critical demand following the competition," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Judy Fedder, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing Integrated Logistics.

Countries such as Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Thailand operate the aircraft; roughly 900 AW139s are in service worldwide, Boeing said.

Boeing will be the second defense aerospace company to enter the service's UH-1N replacement bid. Sikorsky -- previously owned by United Technologies Corp. before Lockheed acquired the helicopter company in 2015 -- earlier this week said it will offer a semi-modified HH-60U as the new Huey.

The Air Force already has three HH-60U Black Hawks in its inventory, which pilots and special mission aviators began flying in 2011.

The Air Force is planning a second request for proposal draft for the UH-1N replacement program after feedback from possible bidders that they couldn't meet the original threshold requirements, an Air Force official told last month. The service still plans to award the contract in fiscal 2018, with the first operational helicopter delivery in the fiscal 2020-2021 timeframe.

It hopes to buy 84 UH-1N replacement aircraft to protect its nuclear missile bases.

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