Like a phoenix: German heavy-lift helicopter tender resumes

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Since 2017, Germany has been attempting to replace the current fleet of seventy CH-53G Sea Stallion of the Luftwaffe. Citing budgetary constraints, the German Ministry of Defense announced the cancellation of the Heavy Lift Helicopter (STH) program on September 29, 2020. “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,” the Ministry explained at the time.

But much like a phoenix, the heavy-lift helicopter seems about to rise from the ashes. On January 27, 2021, the Bundeswehr announced its decision to initiate new negotiations with Boeing and Lockheed-Martin/Sikorsky. 

Thus, Sikorsky, with the CH-53K King Stallion, and Boeing, with the CH-47F Chinook, will once again compete to win this tender that includes about 60 new helicopters and their maintenance, for a total of around €5.6 billion euros. The aircraft are to be delivered by 2031.

The German manufacturer Rheinmetall, teamed up with Sikorsky on the project, welcomed the decision. “After the STH competition was stopped last year, the Federal Ministry of Defense is currently soliciting offers for the former competitors from the US government in a so-called Foreign Military Sales (FMS) procedure,” it wrote in a statement. “In the case of the CH-53K, the basic version already meets all the relevant capability requirements of the Bundeswehr.”

The final decision of the German authorities is expected by the end of 2021.


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