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Helicopter Competition Among US Companies Started By German Military: Media Reports

Helicopter Competition Among US Companies Started By German Military: Media Reports
The decision was taken in Germany and impact felt in the U.S. defense manufacturing sector.
Two of the largest manufacturers of weapons in the U.S. have got into tough competition with each other after Germany’s military announced plans to purchase 45 to 60 new heavy-lift helicopters for about 4 billion euros ($4.72 billion), reported the media.
The twin-rotor CH-47 from Boeing and the massive CH-53K helicopter from Lockheed Martin Corp are set to outbid each other for the deal.
Sources have said that the contract process was kicked off on Thursday after a document to that effect was signed by General Volker Wieker, chief of staff of the German Bundeswehr. “No decision has been made on a preferred model,” the sources said.
It is expected that the contract would be awarded in mid-2020 after the German defense ministry issues a request for information for the helicopters in the second half of 2018, following the completion of a fleet capability analysis.
There were calls by the likes of Airbus and other German firms about dividing the contract into two segments – manufacturing and maintenance, but the final decision includes both.
The media reported that while the contract would warrant that maintenance work is supportable Germany, it does not compliance to include a German company in the maintenance. 
Lockheed said that the company was keen on working with the German military even though it is yet to get an official notification.
The company planned to involve “German industry to the maximum extent possible around the life of the program,” said Nathalie Previte, vice president of international business development for Lockheed’s Sikorsky helicopter unit.
There were no comments from Boeing or Airbus.
Both Boeing and Lockheed have said that they are keen to strike partnerships with German firms for ultimately building and maintaining a German made helicopter in the future. Both the companies also currently work closely with German companies.
While pending approval from the German parliament, the German military has proposed to expend 3.84 billion euros starting 2018 to 2029 on the helicopter project.
Eight NATO countries already use Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook. On the other hand, the Sikorsky CH-53K from Lockheed is an improved version of the CH-53G which is slated to be used by the U.S. Marine Corps from 2019 and Germany already flies it. The Lockheed aircraft is also being considered to be purchased by Israel.
The CH-53K will be launched for public viewing next April at the Berlin air show.
Sources said that officials from the German military would begin examination and comparing the capabilities of the two helicopter models and their effectiveness in different scenarios.
While currently, the Chinook would cost Germany less money, the costs would increase as the model would need multiple upgrades in the near future, experts said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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