AgustaWestland Eyes Three U.S. Military Helicopter Programs

 - October 14, 2010, 2:36 PM

AgustaWestland is promoting three of its civil helicopters for proposed U.S. Department of Defense programs. Two of the three, the AW119 single and the AW139 medium twin, are built at the company’s Philadelphia plant. Dan Hill, AgustaWestland North America vice president for strategy and federal business development, said the company responded to the Army’s request for information (RFI) for an armed aerial scout helicopter (AAS) with the AW119. It is too early to determine if AgustaWestland would partner with anyone when the final request for proposal (RFP) comes out next year. The company’s Philadelphia plant could accommodate AAS production, Hill said, and the AW119 could meet the Army’s requirements for operation at 6,000 feet at 95 degrees F.

AgustaWestland is also responding to two RFIs from the U.S. Air Force for the Common Vertical Lift Support Program (CVLSP) and the HH-60 recapitalization program, formerly known as CSAR, for combat search and rescue. The company is offering the AW139 for the former and the three-engine AW101, dubbed HH-71, for the latter. The airframer claims that the AW139 provides 30 percent more cabin volume and 50 percent more payload than the legacy CVLSP platform, the Bell UH-1N, a fleet whose average age is 38 years. As many as 66 CVLSP aircraft could be required and would be used to support the Air Mobility Command and the Air Force Space Command.

Hill also said the company is pursuing foreign military sales of U.S.-manufactured AgustaWestland aircraft, particularly in theaters such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where the Pentagon has been facilitating the sale Russian-built Mi-17s. “The U.S. government is looking for a capable off-the-shelf platform, such as the AW139, in place of Russian built aircraft,” Hill said.