Replacements for Huey helicopter to be made in Philly

Boeing in Ridley Park will fit the chopper with what the Air Force needs to guard nuclear weapons

Ian Bush
September 25, 2018 - 5:17 pm
A flight of Apache and Blackhawk helicopter from the Idaho National Guard perform a fly over prior to the first half against the Idaho Vandals at Bronco Stadium.

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia area is the winner in the race to replace the U.S. military's Vietnam-era Huey helicopter.    

Boeing in Ridley Park will fit the chopper made by Leonardo in Northeast Philly with what the Air Force needs to guard nuclear weapons. 

"It's certainly fast. It's highly maneuverable. It's just not going to cost as much to operate and own and acquire as something as large as the Black Hawk helicopter," said Jerry Drelling, a spokesperson from Boeing. "The Air Force will save approximately $1 billion in lifecycle cost by acquiring the MH-139."

It is the Black Hawk and bids from Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Sierra Nevada that the MH-139 beat for the nearly $2.4 billion contract, an upset win for Boeing and Leonardo's AgustaWestland subsidiary in the eyes of some analysts. Drelling says it supports about 500 jobs at the two plants.

"This is a huge win for Philadelphia, and I think it basically establishes the level of the quality of work that comes out of the Philadelphia site," he added. 

The iconic Hueys they're replacing keep watch over intercontinental ballistic missile silos in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana, and also whisk government VIPs from place to place.

Should the Boeing contract survive a possible challenge from the losing bidders, the first of 84 choppers is expected in the Pentagon's hands in about three years.