Leonardo has announced that it will build a helicopter support centre if the US Navy selects its TH-119 solution for the replacement of TH-57 training helicopters.

The proposed centre is expected to be built near Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Northwest Florida’s Santa Rosa County.

The decision is conditional and depends on Leonardo winning the competition for the US Navy’s Advanced Helicopter Training System TH-73 programme.

Leonardo has proposed the TH-119 instrumental flight rules (IFR) single-engine helicopter to replace the Navy’s TH-57 fleet.

The Navy plans to acquire 130 helicopters under the programme. The service is expected to announce the winner by the end of the year.

The Italian firm stated that the planned customer support centre will generate approximately 40-50 jobs in Northwest Florida.

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The plan to build the facility is part of the firm’s strategy to expand customer support and improve the quality and proximity of service.

Leonardo Helicopters Philadelphia CEO William Hunt said: “Leonardo continuously makes investments that bring the company closer to its customers.  We hope to soon invest in Santa Rosa County.

“The TH-119 helicopter is the ideal training platform for the Navy.  With this announcement, exceptional aircraft performance and superior maintenance go hand-in-hand.”

The company plans to construct a 100,000ft² facility in the proposed 269-acre Whiting Aviation Park.

The centre will be constructed as a Part 145 Repair Station, offering services such as spare parts, warranty processing and renewal.

The centre will also offer technical and product engineering, as well as component and airframe repair.

In July, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded (IFR) supplemental type certification for Leonardo’s TH-119 aircraft.

Based on AW119, the TH-119 will be used for training flights such as sliding landings, hovering and full autorotations.