The US Navy has taken receipt of the first TH-73A training helicopter from Leonardo, part of a wider requirement that will see 130 aircraft delivered to the service by 2024.
The initial, firm-fixed-price contract of nearly US$177 million awarded in 2020 called for the production and delivery of 32 TH-73A helicopters, initial spares, support, dedicated equipment, in addition to specific pilot and maintenance services. In November 2020, the US Department of Defense exercised options for an additional 36 aircraft in a US$171 million fixed-price-contract.
In a statement released on June 10, Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo CEO, said: “Today’s event marks a significant milestone for Leonardo, marking our growing effort and commitment to becoming not just a supplier, but a partner and strategic asset for the United States in several sectors.”
The TH-73A is replacing the ageing fleet of TH-57B/C Sea Rangers and will serve as the first training aircraft for personnel at NAS Whiting Field in Milton, Florida, where all student helicopter pilots for the US Navy, US Marines and Coast Guard train along with several NATO allied nations.
To support the new fleet, Leonardo has announced the construction of a helicopter support centre at Whiting Aviation Park, located across the runway from NAS Whiting Field, with groundbreaking expected in December 2021.