US Army awards Black Hawk replacement contract to Textron’s Bell

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. Army on Monday awarded the contract for its next-generation helicopter to Textron Inc’s ( TXT.N ) Bell unit, ending a years-long competition for the technology to replace the Black Hawk helicopter. .

The Army̵[ads1]7;s “Future Vertical Lift” competition aimed to find a replacement as the Army looks to retire more than 2,000 medium-class UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky since the 1970s.

The Army was looking for an aircraft capable of moving about a dozen troops 400 nautical miles. “We are ready to equip Soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable and affordable high-performance long-range attack weapon system,” Bell CEO Mitch Snyder said in a statement.

The Army said the original price was $232 million, but the first batch of low-cost production helicopters will be worth $7.1 billion. Ultimately, the contract is potentially worth about $70 billion — over decades — depending on how many the Army and U.S. allies order, the Army told reporters Monday night.

“The thoughtful and disciplined execution of the FLRAA (Future Long Range Assault Aircraft) program strategy will deliver the transformational capabilities we need to support the joint force, strengthen deterrence and win in multi-domain operations,” said Doug Bush, assistant secretary for the organization. army for acquisitions, logistics and technology.

In the FLARAA competition was Bell’s V-280 “Valor,” a tiltrotor aircraft that has reached speeds in excess of 340 mph (547 km), according to the Army. It beat out the entry from Lockheed Martin’s ( LMT.N ) Sikorsky and Boeing Co’s ( BA.N ) SB-1 “Defiant” which has two coaxial rotors and a single pusher and has reached speeds of 265 mph, according to the Army.

There are often protests against acquisitions of this magnitude. Bush said “we planned for that contingency, but it’s completely up to the supplier.” It is likely that if a protest were to be filed, it would be within several weeks of administrative meetings taking place.

Textron shares rose about 8.5% in trading after the news broke.

Reporting by Mike Stone and Idrees Ali; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Stephen Coates

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Idrees Ali

Thomson Reuters

National security correspondent focusing on the Pentagon in Washington DC Reports on US military activity and operations around the world and their impact. Has reported from over two dozen countries that include Iraq, Afghanistan and much of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. From Karachi, Pakistan.

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