Boeing isn't just angling to replace the US Air Force's jet trainers, but its helicopters as well. On Thursday at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, the company unveiled its MH-139 helicopter. It will be entered into the UH-1N Replacement Program competition to find a replacement for the US Air Force's venerable UH-1N "Huey" multi-role helicopter fleet, in service since 1970.

The MH-139 is based on the Leonardo Helicopters AW139, of which there are 900 in service with more than 250 governments and private companies. Designed for day and night operations in a variety of climates, the AW139 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engines with full digital electronic engine control (FADEC) that give the aircraft an airspeed of 165 kt (190 mph, 306 km/h). Inside, there's a glass cockpit with advanced avionics and a four-axis digital autopilot with auto-hover.

According to Boeing, the MH-139 is more economical than other competitors and can save up to US$1 billion over 30 years.

"The Huey replacement is of vital importance to the Air Force, and the MH-139 is the right solution for those missions," says Judy Fedder, director of Global Sales & Marketing, Boeing Integrated Logistics. "The fact that the AW139 is being built today on an active production line will speed it to meet the time-critical demand following the competition."

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