Germany releases draft tender on purchase of new heavy-lift helicopters

The German government has released a draft tender for the Bundeswehr’s Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift helicopter requirement that will mark another step forward for replacing the aging fleet of CH-53 heavy transport helicopters.

Issued by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support on 28 February, a tender notice covers procuring 44-60 helicopters for the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) over an eight-year delivery period.

According to tender documents, the future helicopter should be capable of transporting personnel and equipment and have a maximum take-off weight greater than 20 tons. Only two offers can meet these requirements:  the Boeing with its CH-47E and Lockheed with CH-53K King Stallion helicopter.

Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook, already used by eight other NATO countries, will compete against Lockheed’s Sikorsky CH-53K, a redesigned version of the CH-53G that Germany now flies. Israel is also considering buying 20 of the Lockheed aircraft.

Some officials favor the CH-47 which they say is combat-proven and cheaper, but others say the larger CH-53K would allow growth in future missions.

Bids for the nearly $6.4 billion program are due by May 27. The Luftwaffe — the German Air Force — is to field 44 to 60 STHs between 2023 and 2031 after a final contract award in 2021. Included in the contract value are some maintenance, repair, and overhaul, as well as the training of pilots and technicians.

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