USAF Tries Again on Huey Replacement Draft Request

The Air Force on April 19 issued another draft request for proposals for a new helicopter to replace the aged UH-1N fleet, which provides support to ICBM fields and transports VIPs. The new draft incorporates industry input, and the service is still hoping to put out a final version this summer. The service had to delay the RFP earlier this year, when it was found that none of the potential offerors could, with an “off the shelf” solution, meet its threshold requirements for the aircraft. In an April 20 statement, USAF said it is still aiming for a contract award in calendar 2018, and “still plans to deliver the first operational helicopter in (Fiscal Year) 20/21.” The Air Force wants to buy 84 helicopters, most of which would provide security and support for missile fields. The original RFP called for an aircraft able to carry nine troops equipped for combat, along with additional weapons, cruising at a speed of 135 knots for at least three hours. While the Air Force declined to say why the offerors couldn’t meet the requirement, it has previously said it would delay the RFP process a bit to let companies add some “non-developmental” equipment or make other revisions to their offerings. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command, expressed anger at the delays in early April during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It’s a helicopter for gosh sakes. We’ve been building combat helicopters for decades. … I don’t understand why the heck it is so difficult,” Hyten said, calling the delay “unacceptable.” The Air Force on Thursday said the missile fields are safe and will remain so until the new aircraft is delivered.