US Army awards Black Hawk replacement contract to Textron’s Bell

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. military on Monday awarded the contract for its next-generation helicopter to Textron Inc’s Bell Unit (TXT.N), ending a years-long competition for the technology that will replace the Black Hawk utility helicopter. .

The Army’s “Future Vertical Lift” competition was aimed at finding a replacement as the Army seeks to retire more than 2,000 medium-class UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters built by Sikorsky since the 1970s.

The army was looking for an aircraft capable of moving ten soldiers at 400 nautical miles. “We are ready to equip soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable and affordable high-performance long-range assault weapon system.” , Bell CEO Mitch Snyder said in a statement.

The military said the original price was $232 million, but the first batch of helicopters in low-rate production will be worth $7.1 billion. Ultimately, the contract is potentially worth around $70 billion β€” over decades β€” depending on the number of orders from the military and U.S. allies, the military told reporters Monday night.

β€œThe thoughtful and disciplined execution of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program strategy will provide the transformative capabilities we need to sustain joint force, enhance deterrence and win in multi-domain operations,” said Doug Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

In the FLARAA competition was Bell’s V-280 “Valor”, a tiltrotor aircraft that reached speeds in excess of 340 mph (547 km) according to the military. It beat competitor Lockheed Martin’s (LMT.N) Sikorsky and Boeing Co’s (BA.N) SB-1 “Defiant” which has twin coaxial rotors and a single pusher propeller and reached speeds of 265 mph, according to the army .

Often, defense procurements of this magnitude are the subject of protests. Bush said “we have planned for this eventuality, but it is entirely up to the seller.” It is likely that if a protest were to be filed, it would be several weeks after the administrative meetings.

Textron shares rose about 8.5% in trading after the news bell.

Reporting by Mike Stone and Idrees Ali; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Idrees Ali

Thomson Reuters

National security correspondent focusing on the Pentagon in Washington DC Reports on US military activity and operations around the world and the impact they are having. Reported from over two dozen countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and much of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. From Karachi, Pakistan.

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