The US Navy has awarded a $176.5m contract to AgustaWestland Philadelphia (Leonardo) to manufacture 32 TH-73A helicopters in support of the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) programme.

The new helicopters will replace the 35-year-old TH-57s, which are becoming more difficult to maintain due to obsolescence and lack the appropriate cockpit avionics and aircraft performance capability.

A total of five proposals were received for the new firm-fixed-price TH-73A contract, which was awarded on a best-value tradeoff basis with a base and three one-year options.

The total contract value is $648.1m for the procurement of 130 aircraft. Deliveries are set to begin this year and will continue through 2024.

Leonardo will manufacture the TH-73A in the US and the assembling will take place, through FAA Airworthiness certification, in the company’s FAA Part 21 facility located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The new aircraft, which will provide a modern helicopter training platform, will meet advanced rotary-wing and intermediate tilt-rotor training requirements for the navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard through 2050.

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Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems (PMA-273) programme manager Todd St Laurent 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.

“These new helicopters will ensure the navy has (the) capacity to train several hundred aviation students per year at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field in Milton, Florida.”

The contract also includes the delivery of initial spares, peculiar support equipment, flyaway kits, hoists, sling loads, data in excess of Commercial Form Fit Function (FFF) / Operations Maintenance Instructional Training (OMIT) Data.

It also includes offering ancillary instructor pilot and maintenance personnel training.

The competitive source selection process was supported by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) personnel.

Recently, Peraton has received four recompete US Navy unmanned maritime systems support (UMSS) task orders worth a total of $27.45m.