Germany cancels CH-53 replacement programme

The German Defence Ministry wants to start fresh on a new heavy transport helicopter (STH, Schwerer Transporthubschrauber) after finding that offers from the American firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin for the CH-47F Chinook and the CH-53K King Stallion, respectively, were too expensive.

The surprise decision halts an acquisition race that was scheduled to a see a contract awarded in 2021. The two companies delivered their initial proposals for the programme in January 2020. A request for a second proposal was expected by the end of this year.

Germany had planned to award a contract for the work in 2021 and eventually buy between 40 and 60 helicopters in 2023. The timetable for the replacement has now been pushed back as the Defence Ministry reconsiders the programme and its requirements.

The STH programme was initially planned to be an off-the-shelf purchase. However, acquisition officials kept piling on requirements to such a degree that it surprised some industry executives associated with the bidders. Also included in the government’s requirements was a decades-long maintenance scheme under which contractors had to guarantee certain availability rates.

Are we going to face a new competition?

Photos: Boeing and Sikorsky

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