Boeing and Sikorsky bid to make Germany’s next heavy-lift helicopter

Harry Lye 15 January 2020 (Last Updated January 17th, 2020 15:51)

Boeing and Sikorsky have submitted bids to Germany’s competition to acquire a new heavy-lift helicopter, offering the Chinook and King Stallion respectively.

Boeing and Sikorsky bid to make Germany’s next heavy-lift helicopter
Sikorsky partnered with Rheinmetall to offer the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter to Germany. Credits: Sikorsky.

Boeing and Sikorsky have submitted bids to Germany’s competition to acquire a new heavy-lift helicopter, offering the Chinook and King Stallion respectively.

The ‘Schwerer Transporthubschrauber’ (STH) or heavy transport helicopter competition, aims to meet the country’s military goal to place a contract for the rotorcraft in late 2020 or 2021, with the delivery of the helicopters expected to conclude by around 2030.

The bids came after the Bundeswehr last year issued a request to industry to fulfil the heavy-lift capability. The chosen aircraft will replace the country’s fleet of ageing Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallions operated by the Luftwaffe. The final contract is expected to cover between 40 and 60 aircraft and is worth over €4bn.

Boeing’s bid

On 14 January, Boeing announced that it had offered the CH-47 Chinook to the German Armed Forces the day before, describing it as a “highly modern, proven and capable multi-mission helicopter.”

Boeing Defense, Space & Security in Germany vice president Michael Hostetter praised his company’s entry into the competition saying it would tick all of Germany’s requirements. Hostetter said: “We’re pleased to have submitted our response and look forward to working with the BAAINBw (Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support) and German industry to bring the best value proposition to the German Bundeswehr.

“The H-47 Chinook is a one-of-a-kind platform capable of performing missions that other helicopters cannot. It is a proven multi-mission heavy-lift helicopter with advanced technology that meets the German requirements.”

There are almost a thousand Chinook rotorcraft in operation across the world with a number of countries, including eight NATO nations, which help Germany’s heavy-lift efforts fit into the wider European and cross-alliance capabilities.

Boeing touts the aircraft as having a proven track record of delivery and support, and in a company press release said that the heavy-lift platform has the “the lowest operating and acquisition costs and a technology roadmap that will keep it relevant for decades to come.”

Boeing has said that if it wins the contract it will manufacture some of the parts of the Chinook in Germany as well as issuing a commitment to sustain and train crews for the rotorcraft in-country.

Boeing Germany president Dr Michael Haidinger said: “We will continue to build on and expand our Germany Industry Team for the H-47 Chinook Schwerer Transporthubschrauber competition. In addition, we are committed to bringing high-end engineering and production opportunities from across the Boeing enterprise to German industry.”

Germany heavy-lift helicopterBoeing released a mock-up of what a potential German Chinook could look like. Credits: Boeing.

Sikorsky’s stab

Sikorsky has partnered with German defence contractor Rheinmetall for its bid to provide the German Armed Forces with the CH-53K King Stallion, single rotor helicopter, for the competition.

The company has amassed an industry team from across Germany including MTU Aero Engines, Autoflug and Hydro Systems, which are set to receive a portion of the manufacturing workshare if selected.

Sikorsky CH-53K international business development director Beth Parcella said: “Our entire team is pleased to offer the CH-53K; the most efficient, capable and intelligent helicopter that will deliver the best long-term value to the Bundeswehr through the 21st century.”

Parcella went on to say that Sikorsky sees the importance in the need to “to build a strong German industrial team early on and to capitalize on the know-how of the German teammates for the STH project.”

Like Boeing, Sikorsky claims that its offering will provide Germany with the lowest through-life costs of the two offerings, with the company saying: “Looking at lifecycle costs, mission requirements and capability, the CH-53K will deliver better long-term value than its competitor.”

Praising the inclusion of a number of German manufacturers as a part of Sikorsky’s bid Rheinmetall Aviation Services managing director Mike Schmidt said: “German companies will play a significant role in the success of the CH-53K program. For the industry, this means the creation of many new, long-term jobs for highly qualified employees and an important transfer of know-how.

“Sikorsky and Rheinmetall prepared the application together over a long period of time – this has strengthened the bonds within our team. We have developed into a highly effective unit.”

Sikorsky also stressed that the CH-53K would offer Germany interoperability with its existing fleet of Lockheed Marin C-130 J Super Hercules transport aircraft and the KC-130 tanker. The rotorcraft can carry the same sized aircraft pallets as both aircraft and can be refuelled by the KC-130.