June 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force will procure new aircraft to replace the 46-year-old fleets on each UH-1N location between 2020 and 2032.
The Air Force announced the plan in a press release Wednesday, with the result of a competition between manufacturers -- in the form of a contract award -- expected later this year.
The Air Force launched the $4.1 billion program to replace the 62 aging UH-1N helicopters last year. The aircraft are designed to guard intercontinental nuclear missile bases on the Great Plains and transport high-level officials in "continuity of government" operations.
The new aircraft will support four missions -- Nuclear Deterrence Operations, Continuation of Government Operations, Survival School support, and Test and Training.
Current UH-1N Huey bases are Eglin Air Force Base's Duke Field, Florida; Fairchild AFB, Washington; FE Warren AFB, Wyoming; Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility Washington, Maryland; Kirtland AFB, New Mexico; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and Minot AFB, North Dakota.
The replacement will address shortfalls of the Vietnam-era Huey and provide improvements in speed, range, endurance, payload capacity and survivability, the Air Force said.
The contract for the new helicopters is expected later this year, with deliveries planned between 2020 and 2032.