Vertex Aerospace lands TH-73A logistics support contract

The US Navy has awarded Vertex Aerospace a US$71.3m contract to provide the first year of contractor logistics and maintenance support (CLS) services for its future fleet of Leonardo TH-73A training helicopters.

The contract was officially awarded to the Mississippi-based aerospace and defence firm on March 2 and was announced by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) six days later. This multi-million dollar deal comes with six options, which add up to a total contract value of US$471m. NAVAIR adds that “CLS availability is scheduled to begin in calendar year 2021 and continue through calendar year 2027” if the contract’s options are exercised.

TH-73A [Leonardo Helicopters]
Based on Leonardo Helicopters' AW119Kx, the TH-73A was selected to be the US Navy's next-generation training helicopter under the AHTS programme on January 13, 2020. The platform is intended to fulfil the service's training requirements until at least 2050. Leonardo Helicopters

As part of the deal, Vertex Aerospace will provide logistics, maintenance and supply services for the US Navy’s future fleet of TH-73A training helicopters. These services will include: the repair of airframes and aircraft subsystems, including engines; maintaining records and reporting for aircraft and associated systems; and the maintenance/repair and support of relevant support equipment.

The firm will also provide the same services for the US Navy’s ageing fleet of Bell TH-57B/C Sea Ranger training helicopters, which entered operational service in 1968 and will be replaced by the TH-73A. As per current plans, the navy intends to procure up to 130 examples of the new platform to fulfil its training requirements under the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) programme.

Capt Holly Shoger, programme manager of Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems with the US Navy, said: “The new Leonardo TH-73A helicopters are the cornerstone of AHTS, which is the planned replacement to address the capability and capacity gaps of the current ageing TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopter training platform.

“This contract ensures the navy can successfully maintain the TH-57 helicopters until the TH-73A is operational in the fleet. Vertex will ensure the navy has capacity to train several hundred aviation students per year at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whitling Field in Milton, Florida,” she added.

Vertex Aerospace was originally awarded this contract on October 22, 2020, but it was pulled after a post-award protest was submitted to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) on October 27, 2020.

NAVAIR said: “While reviewing information to respond to the protest, the [US] government identified a matter which necessitated corrective action. The government notified the GAO of its intent to take corrective action and the GAO subsequently dismissed the protest as academic on November 13, 2020. The government took corrective action by issuing an amendment and allowing offerors to submit revised proposals. Following its evaluation of the proposals, the government awarded the contract to Vertex Aerospace on March 2.”