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The German Ministry of Defence has cancelled the tender procedure for the Heavy Transport Helicopter (Schwerer Transporthubschrauber – STH) project. In the course of the current awarding procedure, the procurement authorities have raised doubts that the project can be implemented on budget while meeting all requirements. Both Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky and Boeing had submitted bids.

The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), the country’s procurement authority, has assessed the present offers as uneconomical and has therefore cancelled the award procedure. As a result, the programme will have to be reconsidered, with significant delays expected, because the initial plan to award a contract in 2021 can no longer be met. However, the objective to replace the Bundeswehr’s current CH-53G helicopter fleet remains.

STH Award Procedure

Since the Inspector General’s selection decision of 14 December 2017, the project has been in the implementation phase. It was explicitly not designed to cover a new development, but to purchase a system available on the market, so only Boeing‘s CH-47F CHINOOK in the Extended Range (ER) variant and Lockheed Martin‘s CH-53K KING STALLION were considered as STH contenders.

However, the formal award procedure only started with the Request for Information (RfI) on 28 February 2019 and both Lockheed Martin (Sikorsky) and Boeing submitted the necessary information ahead of the 27 May 2019 deadline. The deadline of the Request for Proposals (RfP) was 13 January 2020 and the BAAINBw published the call for tenders, comprising approximately 1,900 pages, on 24 June 2019. Both Boeing and Sikorsky (the latter a Lockheed Martin company), indicated that they submitted their proposals prior to the 13 January 2020 deadline.

The procurement of 44 to 60 helicopters, including maintenance, repair and training, was expected to be awarded in 2021 and the service introduction of the aircraft scheduled between 2024 and 2032.

Jürgen Hensel