Germany scraps procedure to acquire new heavy-lift helicopters

Tim Rademacher

Dissatisfied with Sikorsky and Boeing offers, the German Ministry of Defense announced that the procurement of 45 to 60 new heavy transport helicopters to replace the CH-53G Stallion was canceled.

The procedure was started in December 2017. Two manufacturers had been running for the contract: Sikorsky, with the CH-53K King Stallion, and Boeing, with the CH-47F Chinook. The budget for 45 to 60 helicopters and their maintenance had been estimated to reach around €5.6 billion euros by 2031. A decision from the authorities was expected by the end of 2020.

On September 29, 2020, the German Ministry of Defense announced in a statement that the Federal Procurement Office of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) deemed the two offers received as “unprofitable” and canceled the Heavy Lift Helicopter (STH) program. “As part of the ongoing tender process, it was recognized that the project would be unlikely to be realized within the budget limits while meeting all requirements,” announced the German Ministry of Defense.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the offer of the two U.S.-based manufacturers would cost almost twice as much as the planned budget. The inflated price was partly to blame on the requirement to have maintenance carried out in Germany, where the manufacturers had to find local partners (Rheinmetall and MTU Aero Engines for Sikorsky, CAE Elektronik and Diehl Defense for Boeing).

The need for a heavy air transport capability by 2030 remains. By that time, the last Sikorsky CH-53G Stallion of the Bundeswehr will be retired. “The realization of the STH project has a very high priority for the German Armed Forces, as the ability to air transport is of outstanding importance for the mobility and responsiveness of the armed forces as well as for aid and support services,” the Ministry outlines. “The project will therefore be continued with modified specifications.”

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