Several major players in the helicopter industry pitched possible solutions at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference for the Navy’s next initial-entry, rotary-wing training helicopter as the service signals stronger intentions to replace its aging TH-57 Sea Ranger fleet.
The Navy has announced during recent congressional hearings that it plans to buy a new training helicopter in fiscal 2020. For years, the service has put out requests for information asking industry for training helicopter options with the latest coming out in October 2017.
That RFI left some requirements open-ended such as whether the aircraft should have one or two engines, but has asked for the helicopter to be Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) certified, an obvious requirement when flying over sea or in reduced visibility environments. It’s also assumed the Navy wants a commercial off-the-shelf aircraft.
The TH-57 is more than reaching the end of its life, having first been fielded to the Navy’s training fleet in the 1970s.