Leonardo welcomes the announcement made by the U.S. Department of Defense to award AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corp. a 110.5 million USD firm-fixed price modification to the previously awarded contract for the U.S. Navy’s Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS). This modification exercises an option for the production and delivery of 26 TH-73A Lot IV aircraft in support of the program for the Navy. The TH-73A AHTS is the replacement for 35-year-old TH-57Bs and TH-57Cs, which will begin sundown in FY22 and concludes in the FY24 timeframe. The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. The helicopters will be produced in Philadelphia. Work is expected to be completed in December 2024.
In January 2020, Leonardo was awarded a firm fixed-price contract valued at $176 million for the production and delivery of an initial 32 TH-73A helicopters, along with spares, support, dedicated equipment and specific pilot/maintenance training services. In November 2020, a second lot of 36 aircraft were ordered through a $171 million USD contract modification and in December 2021, a third lot of 36 aircraft were ordered through a 159.4 million USD contract modification. The TH-73A, made solely at Leonardo’s FAA-certified Part 21 Production line in Philadelphia, PA, will train the next generation of student aviators from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
The TH-73A is a variant of the commercial Leonardo TH-119 helicopter. In September of 2022, the first twelve students began training on the TH-73A, now nicknamed the “Thrasher” by the U.S. Navy. And in November 2022, the first of those students completed their inaugural solo flights. The TH-73A incorporates a modern avionics suite with a fully integrated flight management system, automatic flight control system, and independent, digital cockpit displays to both pilot stations. It boasts increased performance in power, speed, payload, and endurance over the Sea Ranger, making it comparable to fleet aircraft. These upgrades will help bridge capability and capacity gaps to better prepare winged naval aviators as they transition to fleet replacement squadrons for postgraduate training.
The helicopter will be assigned to Training Air Wing (TW) 5 as the undergraduate training helicopter for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The full AHTS includes aircrew training services that provide availability on new simulators, curriculum, and logistics support contract for Thrasher maintenance and flight line support.The length of the training is roughly the same of the TH-57, however the Navy says it will produce stronger pilots as they take advantage of the new technology and power that the aircraft brings. From start to finish, the aviation students spend approximately 38 weeks in the advanced training regimen at Whiting before they graduate and move to larger operational helicopters in the fleet, such as the H-60, H-53 and AH-1 helicopters.