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Budget Bill Dramatically Boosts Funding for Huey Replacement Program

The Senate this week passed a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would keep the government funded through September. The bill next heads to President Donald Trump.

Within the measure, Congress gave one particular Air Force effort a boost -- the UH-1N Huey helicopter replacement program.

The legislation allocates an additional $75 million toward the program, bumping the final bill adjustment to $93.3 million, according to budget documents. Last year's request asked for only $18 million.

The spending boost, first reported by Defense News, signals lawmakers' intent to get the program rolling after much inaction. The replacement program has been in the works for more than a decade.

Congress has not been pleased with the drawn-out process, given one of the helicopter's primary, stateside missions is to protect U.S. nuclear missile bases.

RELATED: Lawmaker Bashes Delay on Huey Replacement Program

The Air Force on April 19 moved forward with its request for proposal, releasing its next draft RFP to "continue dialogue with industry to ensure final RFP release this summer and contract award in FY18," according to a release.

The service planned for a second RFP draft after it received feedback from possible bidders that they couldn't meet the original threshold requirements, an Air Force official told Military.com in February. The service still plans to award the contract in fiscal 2018, with the first operational helicopter delivery in the fiscal 2020-2021 timeframe.

Boeing Co. and Sikorsky were the first two defense aerospace companies to enter a UH-1N replacement bid.

Sikorsky -- previously owned by United Technologies Corp. before Lockheed acquired the helicopter company in 2015 -- in March said it will offer a semi-modified HH-60U as the new Huey.

That same month, Boeing announced it will offer an MH-139 helicopter variant, based on Leonardo-Finmeccanica's AgustaWestland AW139.

The service hopes to buy 84 UH-1N replacement aircraft.

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