A UH-1N Iroquois from the 54th Helicopter Squadron flies over Minot Air Force Base’s missile complex, N.D., Jan. 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
The U.S. Air Force plans to release a second draft request for proposals (RFP) in April for its UH-1N helicopter replacement program following industry feedback that its current platforms don’t meet all the requirements contained in the previous draft.
The Air Force plans to call for acquiring 84 UH-1N replacement helicopters. This development means the release of a final RFP would be delayed until mid-year.
“Following release of the draft RPF, interested offerors identified that their off-the-shelf platforms would not meet all threshold requirements,” said a USAF statement.
“Consequently, the Air Force is shifting the acquisition approach to a pre-Milestone C entry to allow for integration of Non-Developmental Items (NDI). This will allow interested offerors an opportunity to integrated NDI into their off-the-shelf platform to meet all requirements for the UH-1N replacement.”
Milestone C refers to a Pentagon decision event to decide if a program is ready to transition from development to production. The initial draft RFP was issued Dec. 2, 2016.
The final RFP was supposed to be issued in February, but is now slated for release sometime this summer, the Air Force said.
“The Air Force still plans to award a contract in Fiscal 2018 that results in delivery of the first operational helicopter in the Fiscal 2020/21 time frame,” the statement said. “We will continue a robust dialogue with industry as this program moves forward.”
The 62 Bell utility aircraft flying with the USAF today are 1969/1970 vintage, and many have more than 10,000 flying hours. Diminishing sources for manufacturing replacement parts combine with material shortages to make UH-1N sustainment costs prohibitive. The UH-1Ns perform nuclear missile-field support, VIP/continuity-of-government, training and test-support missions, but the Hueys no longer have the performance needed for those tasks; this has put the Air Force on an aggressive program schedule.