Lockheed/MDHI team makes surprise light helicopter offer MD Helicopters (MDHI) and Lockheed Martin have combined to offer the MD Explorer for a US Army requirment for 322 aircraft, boosting a rebuilding job for MDHI and expanding Lockheed’s interests in the rotorcraft industry.
The twin-engine Explorer, which features the Notar no-tail-rotor anti-torque system, has emerged as a surprise contender for the army’s highly contested light utility helicopter (LUH) contract, valued at about $1.2 billion.
The teaming came to light only a week after MDHI closed a bail-out deal with New York financial firm Patriarch Partners, which has purchased a controlling interest in the company (Flight International, 9-15 August).
MDHI chief executive Henk Schaeken says the company’s supply chain is already starting to revive and is viewing the LUH competition as a “tremendous opportunity.” Many vendors are resuming production of MDHI aircraft components “even as we speak”, Schaeken adds.
Meanwhile, Owego, New York-based Lockheed Martin Systems Integration continues an aggressive march into the rotorcraft market. The LUH programme’s requirements do not call for a systems integrator, but the Owego unit plans to contribute to the team in other ways.
“We think the MD Explorer and our logistics and support capability is the best offer to the US Army,” says Adam Miller, Lockheed’s LUH programme director.
The Lockheed/MDHI bid is facing competition from the Bell Helicopter 210, and products by AgustaWestland and Eurocopter. Suppliers of UH-1H Huey upgrade kits may also submit bids.