The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on January 28 issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the procurement of new TH-XX helicopter training aircraft.
The new TH-XX aircraft will replace the TH-57B/C aircraft currently used by the US Navy for advanced helicopter training for undergraduate pilots.
NAVAIR said it intends to award a single firm fixed price contract for the acquisition of a total of 130 commercial aircraft through a base and up to four options.
The deadline for responses to the RFP is April 2, 2019, while a contract award is anticipated in the 1st quarter of fiscal year 2020.
European helicopter manufacturers Airbus and Leonardo, and the US-based Bell are the three currently known contenders for the helicopter trainer replacement program.
Leonardo is proposing the TH-119 IFR training helicopter which completed its maiden flight in December last year. The single-engine helicopter has a dual-display Genesys Aerosystems glass cockpit which allows instruction from either pilot seat with full IFR capabilities including flight director and 3-axis full autopilot.
Bell Helicopter, who delivered the TH-57B and 57C aircraft to the navy in 1981 and 1982, is offering the 407GXi as replacement. The 407GXi features a Garmin G1000H NXi avionics system and a new Fadec-controlled Rolls-Royce engine.
The H135 helicopter offered by Airbus is fitted with a Glass Cockpit, a crash-resistant fuel system, energy absorbing seats, fuselage and landing gear. The company says the H135 is currently providing pilot training for military pilots in over 13 countries around the world.