The U.S. Department of Defense has exercised its option for a fourth lot of Leonardo TH-73A “Thrasher” training helicopters for the Navy. The $110.5 million modification of a previously-awarded contract covers 26 helicopters that will be produced at Leonardo’s Philadelphia plant and delivered by December 2024.
In January 2020, Leonardo was awarded a firm-fixed-price contract valued at $176 million for the production and delivery of an initial lot of 32 TH-73As along with spares, support, dedicated equipment, and specific pilot/maintenance training services. In November 2020, the second lot of 36 aircraft was ordered through a $171 million contract modification, and in December 2021, the third lot of 36 aircraft was ordered through a $159.4 million contract modification.
The TH-73A is a militarized version of the AW119Kx and is replacing the Navy’s training fleet of Bell TH-57 Sea Rangers for basic and advanced IFR rotorcraft training. It features a digital cockpit similar to the one in the Navy’s T-6B Texan II fixed-wing turboprop.
Student aviators from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard began training on the TH-73A in September 2022 and the first students completed their inaugural solo flights in November. The 38-week advanced training course includes substantial ground instruction, virtual reality, and simulators that prepare graduates to fly fleet rotorcraft including the TH-73A, H-60, H-53, and AH-1.