Is a combat helicopter feasible in WWII
Too expensive: Ministry of Defense stops award procedure for new heavy transport helicopter (new version)
One of the Bundeswehr's major armaments projects has been stopped for the time being: the Ministry of Defense has canceled the award procedure for the future heavy transport helicopter (STH) of the Bundeswehr, which was supposed to replace the aging fleet of helicopters of the type CH-53G in its various variants. The present offers are 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 (in this respect I was wrong with the first quick report): In the draft of the defense budget 2021 approved by the Federal Cabinet last week, the commitment authorizations for this project were missing. The Ministry announced the actual demolition on Tuesday (today):
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 implemented within the planned financial framework while meeting all requirements at the same time. The procurement office 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 procurement procedure.
The now necessary re-examination of the project will have an impact on the previous schedule. It is therefore not possible to conclude a contract in 2021 under the current framework conditions.
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 outstanding importance for the mobility and responsiveness * of the armed forces as well as for aid and support services. (...)
The goal remains to ensure a seamless transition in skills. The BMVg will decide on how to proceed by the end of 2020.
The award procedure started in February of last year, with some delay. In December 2017, the then General Inspector Volker Wieker decided that the two US helicopter models would be available for selection. As a result, Sikorsky and Boeing officially applied for the delivery of the new helicopter.
In Wieker's selection decision it was stipulated that at least 45 and up to 60 helicopters of a model available on the market should be procured. This stipulates that practically only two US models come into question: The latest variant of the CH-47 helicopter Chinook (characteristic with the two rotors) from the Boeing company or the newer one and so far only from the U.S. Marine Corps introduced the Sikorsky CH-53K, which is now part of the US defense giant Lockheed Martin.
This selection decision, says the ministry, will continue to apply for the time being. The considerations are now focused on the costs: The budget committee of the federal parliament had planned commitment appropriations totaling a good 5.6 billion euros for the new helicopters until 2031. This budget, it is said, was far exceeded in the offers of the two US companies.
The main problem seems to be that the term mentioned in the selection decision available on the market is quite flexible: It doesn’t mean that either the CH-53K or the Chinook off the shelf to be bought. On the one hand, the German Armed Forces have, quite common, certain requirements that differ from those of the US armed forces.
On the other hand, and in this case that could have played a decisive role in the costs, the German industry is to play a major role in the procurement of the new helicopters. It is true that the machines are not to be built under license in Germany, like the model used so far, but to be delivered from the USA. Nevertheless, the plan has so far been for the German company to get involved - and the budget committee stipulated this in a so-called decision of measures in November of last year:
The Budget Committee calls on the Federal Government to work towards the contract negotiations for the "Heavy Transport Helicopter" project,
1. that Germany's ability to act and its security policy sovereignty are guaranteed at all times, especially in the event of a conflict or crisis.
2. that Germany receives the rights to the intellectual property of the helicopter to the extent that operation, maintenance, servicing as well as adaptation and further development are possible regardless of the manufacturer of the helicopter, if the manufacturer is not ready or able to do so himself.
3. that the servicing, maintenance as well as the adaptation and further development of the helicopter (overall system, especially main components) take place in Germany
4. that during the usage and support phase a complete and partial change of the system supporting company is possible, as far as this is necessary with regard to point 1.
The Budget Committee calls on the Federal Government to inform the Budget Committee about the models offered for operation, maintenance, servicing, as well as adaptation and further development before the request for the “best and final offer”.
The transfer of intellectual property is always an expensive thing, and not only for military hardware - and the transfer of the adaptation and further development to German companies should also be affordable for both Sikorsky and Boeing.
Now it remains exciting to see what the decision announced by Tauber will look like by the end of this year; there is not much time left. And there are no alternatives to the two US helicopters in the western world. How urgent it is to replace the decades-old CH-53G has already become clear a few times this year: the Air Force has reported so-called multiple times Safety landingn the old machines.
The opposition housekeeper (and defense politician) Tobias Lindner from the Greens was the first to speak up after the decision - with criticism of the head of the ministry and Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who, however, had inherited the award procedure from her predecessor:
The end for the heavy transport helicopter is a bitter sign for the troops. It is unclear how the soldiers should carry out their tasks without new helicopters. We have to expect that the clarity of the transport helicopters will continue to deteriorate in the future. The continued operation of outdated systems is time-consuming and very expensive. The ministry approached the procurement project in a completely naive way. Kramp-Karrenbauer has no plan B, a new tender alone does not solve any problems.
* Due to a transmission error, it was initially Editorial ability; I apologize for the mistake.
(Archive Image: The CH-53K King Stallion flies a test flight in West Palm Beach, Fla. On March 22, 2017 - U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Molly Hampton)
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