Germany is looking to replace its fleet of CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters. The Germans have two options: the H-47 from the Boeing-Airbus consortium or the CH-53K from Lockheed Martin. According to several German newspapers, the Boeing-Airbus Chinook has won the contract.
The H-47 or the CH-53K?
In January 2021, the German Ministry of Defense officially launched a tender to find a replacement for its CH-53G heavy-lift helicopters. The replacement program, dubbed Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH), focuses on two helicopters: the H-47 or CH-53K. In January 2022, the Luftwaffe was flying 80 CH-53G/GA/GS Sea Stallions.
A CH-53K King Stallion too expensive
Lockheed Martin is partnering with several companies around this program:
- Rheinmetall and Resier for simulation and training
- Hensoldt for electronic warfare systems
- MTU for engines and engine maintenance
- Collins Aerospace for avionics integration
- Rohde&Schwarz for secure radios
- Autoflug for cabin fittings
- Hydro for ground support equipment.
This is the most modern variant of the Ch-53G. Many aviation analysts and journals have banked on Lockheed Martin's success in offering an aircraft similar to (but much more modern than) the heavy helicopters currently in service with the Luftwaffe. However, its price is much higher than expected: with a budget of 5 billion euros, the Luftwaffe can only buy 40 King Stallions, while the STH program calls for the purchase of 60 helicopters.
A preference for the Chinook
It is offered by a partnership between Boeing and Airbus (formalized on March 25). The offer also includes other partners such as AERO-Bildung GmbH, CAE Elektronik GmbH, ESG GmbH, Lufthansa Technik, Honeywell Aerospace and Rolls-Royce Deutschland. In fact, the president of Boeing Germany said the bid was expected to create 500 highly skilled jobs in Germany.
Well, according to several German newspapers, it appears that the German government has set its preference on this helicopter. Two factors are said to have played a role in the decision: the CH-53K's too-high price compared to the H-47 and the fact that many European nations with heavy helicopters also use Chinooks. The government is expected to announce its official decision to the German parliament very soon. No information is yet available on the number of helicopters ordered.
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