Air Force awards Huey replacement contract to Boeing

The Air Force has awarded the first portion of a $2.38 billion firm-fixed-price contract to Boeing for the UH-1N replacement helicopter.

The Huey helicopters being replaced includes those at Malmstrom Air Force Base, which are used to support missile field security.

“Strong competition drove down costs for the program, resulting in $1.7 billion in savings to the taxpayer,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a release.

The original service cost estimate was $4.1 billion.

Today’s award of approximately $375 million is for the first four helicopters and includes the integration of non-developmental items, according to the Air Force.

All Huey bases will get replacement aircraft

This additional equipment integrated into the aircraft will ensure the helicopters are ready to meet warfighter needs upon delivery.

In a statement, Sen. Steve Daines said, I’m pleased to see the Air Force take this critical step to provide Montana’s airmen of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom with the equipment needed to keep the missile fields secure and defend our skies and nation.” 

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The Air Force had initially planned to award the contract over the summer but was delayed by a pre-award protest. Multiple congressional and defense staffers have indicated that they anticipate another protest for the awarded contract.

The total program cost for the UH-1N Replacement Program reflects the exercise of all options and provides for the acquisition and sustainment of up to 84 MH-139 helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment to replace the legacy UH-1Ns.


The new aircraft will be used for supporting the intercontinental ballistic missiles, including those at Malmstrom and the other two missile wings. The Air Force will also use the aircraft for training, test and operational support airlift.

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The Air Force pursued a full and open competition to deliver increased capabilities to warfighters. This replacement will provide the necessary speed, range, endurance and carrying capacity needed to meet the requirements of five Air Force major commands, officials said.

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“A safe, secure and effective nuclear enterprise is job one,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “It is imperative that we field a capable and effective helicopter to replace UH-1Ns providing security for our ICBMs and nuclear deterrence operations.”

The first operational helicopter delivery is expected in Fiscal Year 2021.

Last summer, a team from Boeing-Leonardo brought the MH-139 to Great Falls as a static display for the airshow and demonstration flights.

Three companies bid for Huey replacement program

The civilian model of the helicopter is manufactured by Leonardo and Boeing militarized the aircraft to create the proposed replacement for the Huey from the partnership of the two companies.