The US Navy has taken delivery of the first of planned 130 TH-73A helicopters from Leonardo in a ceremony in Philadelphia.
The June 10 ceremony was attended by Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, commander of Naval Air Forces and Commander, Naval Air Force US Pacific Fleet; Rear Admiral Gregory Harris, Director of Air Warfare Division (N98); and Captain Holly Shoger, Program Manager of Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program.
Leonardo delivered the first TH-73A after receiving an initial contract for 32 helicopters in January 2020. The navy subsequently awarded the company a contract in November 2020 for another 36 units. The two contracts have a combined worth of around $348 million.
The total requirement is for 130 aircraft, with deliveries to continue through calendar year 2024.
The TH-73A, based on the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) certified variant of the commercial AW119Kx, is suited for initial training flights, but can also support advanced training. With a Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engine, dual safety and hydraulic systems and digital avionics by Genesys Aerosystems, Leonardo says the TH-73 can perform every maneuver in the US Navy’s training syllabus.
“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,” said Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo CEO. “We are proud to be a core contributor to the future of US defense.
The TH-73A is replacing the aging fleet of TH-57B/C Sea Rangers, and will serve as the first training aircraft of Student Naval Aviators at NAS Whiting Field in Milton, FL, where all student helicopter pilots for the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard train along with several NATO-allied nations.
To support this new fleet, Leonardo has announced the construction of a new 100,000 sq. ft. helicopter support center at Whiting Aviation Park, located across the runway from NAS Whiting Field for maintenance and repair support, with groundbreaking expected in December 2021.