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Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH)

The Bundeswehr Procurement Office (BAAINBw - Bundesamtes für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) canceled the procedure for the purchase of new heavy transport helicopters for the armed forces for the time being. It was recognized that "a realization of the project within the planned financial framework with simultaneous fulfillment of all requirements is unlikely," announced the Ministry of Defense on 29 September 2020 in Berlin. Offers submitted were rated as uneconomical. That is why the award procedure was "canceled".

The Bundeswehr is looking for a successor to the aging Sikorsky CH-53G, which is to be taken out of service by 2030. Heavy transport helicopters are central to military operations. This applies to national and alliance defense, but also to deployments abroad or the deployment of special forces.

"The aim remains to replace the previous CH-53G model in good time," said the ministry. However, the schedule is postponed so that a contract can no longer be reached in the coming year. The project will also be continued with "changed specifications". A decision on how to proceed should be made by the end of the year.

Boeing had applied for the order with the CH-47 "Chinook" and Sikorsky with the CH-53K. A German industrial team is involved in the Sikorsky offer, including Rheinmetall, MTU ( MTU Aero Engines ) Aero Engines, Autoflug and Hydro Systems. The participation of German companies is considered to be one of the cost drivers because US manufacturers are paying for it.

The Left declared that it welcomed "the timely non-implementation of the procurement project". "In 2021 Germany will have the highest debt level since the existence of the FRG", said the left chairman in the defense committee, Alexander Neu. "In short, Germany has more important challenges to master than buying expensive military toys, especially since Germany is not threatened by any state."

The Green defense politician Tobias Lindner spoke of an "end to the heavy transport helicopter" as a bitter sign for the troops. It is unclear how the soldiers should carry out their tasks without new helicopters. The operational readiness will continue to deteriorate. "The continued operation of outdated systems is time-consuming and very expensive. The ministry approached the procurement project with complete naivety," said Lindner. To the defense minister's address, he said: "Kramp-Karrenbauer has no plan B, a new tender alone does not solve any problems."

In November 2018 Germany's parliamentary budget committee approved the Luftwaffe's future heavy transport helicopter acquisition program. For the foreseeable future, the German Armed Forces will need a successor for the medium-sized transport helicopter CH-53G. The Bundeswehr is flying an older version of the CH-53, which should be phased out by 2030 at the latest. The new helicopters, which are budgeted at just under four billion euros, are said to be delivered to the Bundeswehr between 2023 and 2029. An RFP (Request for Proposal) was sent to the manufacturers in May 2018.

The procurement program STH (Schwerer Transporthubschrauber - Heavy Transport Helicopter) is for about 45 to 60 helicopters worth about four billion euros. Only the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion and the Boeing CH-47 from Boeing are considered the only competitors according to the requirements of the Air Force. This repeats the bidding competition of the 1960s, when the Bundeswehr had to decide between the CH-53 and the Chinook. The Bundeswehr is to receive in the coming decade, according to information from military circles 45 to 60 heavy transport helicopters.

By 2018 the German Air Force needed a successor device for their heavy helicopter CH-53. Lockheed offered the Sikorsky CH-53K, which completed its international premiere at the International Aerospace Fair ILA 2018. Likewise in the sky was the competition model of Boeing, the CH-47 "Chinook". Boeing's European marketing director Drew Magill advertised that his group already employs 600 people in Germany and works with 100 German suppliers. He promised to expand the research centers in Neu-Isenburg and Munich, when the German Armed Forces decided on the "Chinook".

But claims the the H-47F ER is the ideal heavy-duty transport helicopter for air transport, search and rescue (CSAR) and special unit operations. The H-47F ER has optimized safety features and is characterized by lower maintenance requirements. The H-47F ER configuration complements the proven mission portfolio, which includes air transport, CSAR and special operations, with a significantly enhanced performance profile.

The H-47F ER responds to the requirements of the German Armed Forces for air transport, search and rescue operations (CSAR) and deployments of special units . The tandem rotor configuration and unique operating characteristics make it possible to use the H-47F ER even in demanding climatic conditions, high altitudes and strong crosswinds , which usually keep other helicopters away from use. The H-47F ER continues to excel with state-of-the-art mission-critical capabilities based on a state-of-the-art airframe and a Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit and features a Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFCS) . The H-47F ER features optimized safety features, advanced situational awareness, and lower maintenance requirements. The H-47F ER configuration complements the proven mission portfolio, which includes air transport, CSAR and special operations , with a significantly enhanced performance profile . The Chinook program has achieved a high, stable and long-term production rate . This ensures that this heavy- duty transport helicopter will be in operation and state-of-the-art until the 2060s and beyond.

On 13 February 2018 Rheinmetall and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) Company signed a strategic teaming agreement for competing in the German Air Force “Schwerer Transporthubschrauber” (STH) Program. Rheinmetall brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Sikorsky STH team. With Sikorsky’s breadth and depth of heavy lift experience and Rheinmetall’s leadership as the lead teammate for STH sustainment, the German Air Force will experience the high levels of aircraft availability and reliability that Sikorsky customers have come to expect.

With the legacy fleet of the CH-53G, Sikorsky has a long lasting strong relationship with the Bundeswehr, which Sikorsky looks forward to strengthening with the CH-53K. Sikorsky and Rheinmetall will look to introduce more German teammates. The team will leverage and build upon the deep knowledge and expertise of the German defense industry.

“With Rheinmetall as the strategic partner for Sikorsky, we are convinced that together we provide the best possible state-of-the-art aircraft for the German Air Force as successor for the legacy CH-53G fleet,” said Armin Papperger Rheinmetall CEO. “Furthermore, we stand strongly together in offering a cost-effective, reliable solution oriented to the needs of today’s operations, and able to evolve with the Armed Forces as its needs change over time.”

“Sikorsky has a 45-year history supporting the German Armed Forces fleet of CH-53G aircraft, and we are humbled by the opportunity to continue to serve the German Armed Forces for another 45 years with Sikorsky’s CH-53K,” said Dan Schultz, president of Sikorsky. “As a former CH-53 pilot, I can attest that this aircraft is truly the most capable heavy lift helicopter we have ever built. Sikorsky’s CH-53K, combined with Rheinmetall as our key German partner, is a winning solution for STH.”

The CH-53K King Stallion advances Sikorsky’s 50 years of manufacturing and operational success of its CH-53A, CH-53D/G, and CH-53E. Built to thrive on the 21st-century battlefield, including shipboard operations, the CH-53K aircraft is an all-new aircraft, using modern intelligent design. The rugged CH-53K is designed to ensure reliability, low maintenance, high availability and enhanced survivability in the most austere and remote forward operating bases.

The U.S. Marine Corps will field the CH-53K as a fully-operational aircraft in 2019. By the time Germany receives its first aircraft, the CH-53K will have been in service with the U.S. Marine Corps for five years. The CH-53K provides the German Armed Forces with a proven heavy lift helicopter that can be entered into service seamlessly without need for upgrades for the next several decades.

Rheinmetall and the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation also aim to strengthen the team for this venture with additional industrial partners. The aim is to be able to offer the German armed forces a total solution consisting of the CH-53K helicopters as well as other services for maintenance, repair, training and program support. The Sikorsky CH-53K is a new state-of-the-art heavy-duty transport helicopter. It sets new standards for tactical operations with its very high payload capabilities in combination with the modern design and superior flight characteristics.

In September 2020 the Ministry of Defense canceled the award procedure for the Bundeswehr's future heavy transport helicopter (STH), which was supposed to replace the aging fleet of helicopters of the type CH-53G in its various variants. The offers were uneconomical, in German: too expensive. The selection decision to examine the two US models CH53K and CH-47F Chinook as replacements, however, continues to apply for the time being. The termination did not come as a surprise.

The Ministry announced the actual demolition on 29 September 2020 : "We hereby inform you that the award procedure in the "Heavy Transport Helicopter (STH)" project has been canceled. As part of the ongoing award process, it was recognized that the project would be unlikely to be realized within the budgeted budget while meeting all requirements. The awarding authority of the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Federal Armed Forces assessed the available offers as uneconomical and, for this reason, canceled the award procedure. The now required re-examination of the project will have an impact on the previous schedule. A contract conclusion in 2021 under the current framework conditions cannot therefore be achieved. The aim remains to replace the previous model CH-53G in a timely manner".

"In addition, a letter from Parliamentary State Secretary Peter Tauber to the Defense Committee of the Bundestag states: "The realization of the STH project continues to have a very high priority for the German Armed Forces, as the ability to air transport is of paramount importance for the mobility and responsiveness * of the armed forces as well as for aid and support services. (...) The aim remains to ensure a seamless transition of skills. The BMVg will decide how to proceed by the end of 2020."

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:04:56 ZULU