Donald Trump’s’ buy American’ with a twist….
The Viet Nam era flying workhorse gets retired by a English/Italian helicopter that will be put together in America,,,,,
Royal Thai AW-139
Almost two decades after the U.S. Air Force started trying to replace the Vietnam-era helicopters that patrol missile fields and stand by to evacuate senior officials, the service announced Monday that it has placed an initial order of MH-139 helicopterswith the team of Boeing and Italian defense firm Leonardo.
Today’s contract awards $375 million for the first four MH-139s, the first batch of what is slated to be a $2.38 billion, 84-aircraft program. The deal is structured as a firm fixed-price contract, meaning that the company, not the government, would be on the hook for cost overruns.
Air Force officials said the program was initially estimated to cost $4.1 billion. “Strong competition drove down costs for the program, resulting in $1.7 billion in savings to the taxpayer,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement.
The selection is an upset of Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky, whose venerable Black Hawk was long considered the favorite. The MH-139 also beat out a bid by Sierra Nevada, which was proposing to acquire, overhaul, and update U.S. Army Black Hawks.
It’s a major win for Leonardo, which has been trying to expand its U.S. business led by former Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn. Last year, Boeing teamed up with Leonardo — formerly Finmeccanica’s AgustaWestland — to pitch a militarized version of the latter’s commercial AW-139. The companies plan to build the helicopters at a Leonardo factory in northeast Philadelphia.
The new helicopters will guard intercontinental ballistic missile fields in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. They will also stand ready to evacuate high-ranking government officials and members of Congress from Washington, D.C., in a national emergency. In all, the Air Force plans to buy 84 new helicopters…..