A group of senators has called on the U.S. Air Force to provide a contract award timeline for the replacement of the military branch’s fleet of UH-1N Huey helicopters.
Six lawmakers said Monday in a letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson that they need a “clear understanding” of the Air Force’s capacity to carry out the UH-1N replacement program since delays have kept the effort in the source-selection phase.
Senators also urged Wilson to propose ways to accelerate the deployment of the replacement aircraft.
The Air Force’s fiscal year 2019 budget request includes $288 million in research, development, test and evaluation funds for the replacement program as well as $8.88 million for ongoing UH-1N service life extension upgrades.
UH-1Ns currently operate on national security waivers because they do not meet speed, payload, range, armament and survivability requirements.
Lawmakers previously recommended the Air Force to use an existing U.S. Army contract for HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to purchase replacement airframes for UH-1Ns, but the Air Force declined that option.
The letter was signed by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Montana), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming).