Rheinmetall has won an order from the German Bundeswehr to inspect, maintain and repair Sikorsky CH-53G transport helicopters. In Diepholz, the 64th Helicopter Squadron is responsible for larger maintenance operations in a separate remote squadron, with a total of five Bundeswehr-owned maintenance and repair bays for the CH-53G – an aircraft that has been operated in the Bundeswehr since 1972. Starting in March 2021, the Düsseldorf-based Group will be operating two maintenance and repair bays belonging to the German Air Force’s 64th Helicopter Squadron at Diepholz in Lower Saxony.
Worth a figure in the lower two-digit million-euro range, the contract with Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH runs for five years, with an option for a one-year extension. An integrated high-tech enterprise dedicated to security and mobility, Rheinmetall’s proposal won the tender, so that its subsidiary Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH (RAS) will soon be in charge of maintaining and repairing Bundeswehr helicopters in Diepholz. RAS will draw on organizational and aeronautical regulatory support from its sister company Rheinmetall Technical Publications GmbH, an approved aeronautical company located at Bremen Airport.
The German Army Aviation Corps received 110 type CH-53Gs, derivatives of the CH-53D, between 1971 and 1975. 108 helicopters were built in Germany by VFW-Fokker. German Army Aviation Corps units have carried out a wide range of international missions under the auspices of NATO and the UN, providing transport for members of UNSCOM in Iraq, serving in Kosovo with KFOR, with IFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and more recently with ISAF in Afghanistan. Due to the lower cargo capacities of the NH-90, service life extensions for at least a portion the CH-53 fleet are envisioned, bringing its useful life out to approximately 2030. On 1 January 2013 all Army Aviation Corps CH-53Gs were transferred to the German Air Force and incorporated into Helicopter Wing 64.
Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH, which is also based in Bremen, was founded at the beginning of 2019 as part of the Group’s strategic cooperation with Sikorsky in the Heavy Transport Helicopter (STH) procurement programme, with responsibility for maintenance, repairs, training and documentation. Rheinmetall and Sikorsky have been cooperating together intensively in various procurement projects since 2009. Thanks to the new order, expertise gained through this partnership will now be profitably put to work on behalf of the Bundeswehr in Diepholz. Looking ahead, the Bundeswehr also stands to benefit in the long term from the partnership between Rheinmetall and Sikorsky in the STH procurement programme, coupled with experience accumulated at Diepholz Air Base.