––Rachel S. Cohen
Boeing and Leonardo are teaming up to build the new MH-139 helicopter, which the Air Force says will cost nearly $19 billion over its lifetime, to patrol nuclear missile fields and fly certain transport missions. Boeing photo.
The Air Force’s new fleet of MH-139 helicopters, provided by Boeing and Leonardo, is expected to cost nearly $19 billion over the course of its life, the service said in a report to lawmakers that Air Force Magazine viewed this week.
A September 2018 service cost position for the UH-1N Huey replacement program, for which the Air Force chose the MH-139 last September, set the total life cycle cost at $18.6 billion, according to Will Roper, the service’s acquisition executive.
A Boeing spokesman said Tuesday the price tag was based on a comparison with the UH-60 Black Hawk, variants of which were offered in the competition by Sikorsky and Sierra Nevada Corp.
Boeing said it doesn’t have comparative data for how the chopper’s anticipated long-term maintenance and upgrade costs stack up against the UH-1N it is replacing at nuclear missile fields and for certain transport missions.
An Air Force spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment as of Thursday morning.
The Boeing spokesman added the first MH-139 is on track for delivery by the end of the year.
In another report, Roper noted that a preliminary design review could increase costs, delay the program by six to 12 months, and cause an “unacceptable national security risk.”
The MH-139 design includes mature systems that need minor modifications to meet the Air Force’s requirements.
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Memorial Day is a time to remember all those who died fighting for their country, just like A1C William Pitsenbarger, an Air Force pararescueman who took part in more than 250 rescue missions before he was killed at the age of 21. His selflessness and valor in the Vietnam War earned him an Air Force Cross and, eventually, a Medal of Honor.
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