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Boeing Defeats Lockheed Martin for $2.4 Billion Contract to Replace the Air Force's 'Huey' Helicopters

Hallie Detrick

Boeing is on a roll.

The company just won its second Pentagon contract in three weeks after a seven-year dry spell. The company, in partnership with the Italian firm Leonardo, will replace the Air Force’s UH-1N “Huey” choppers, tasked with protecting the nation’s nuclear bases. The initial contract is worth $367 million for four helicopters, but the full contract could be worth up to $2.38 billion if the Air Force orders the additional 80 aircraft it wants by 2031.

The Boeing-Leonardo partnership beat out bids from Sierra Nevada Corp. and Sikorsky, a unit of Lockheed Martin. Boeing’s bid will save taxpayers $1.7 billion, according to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. The cost of the project was originally estimated at $4.1 billion. That’s a nice change of pace for Boeing, which had a $24 million contract for two refrigerators for Air Force One cancelled in June over cost concerns.

As Fortune reports in its October issue, the defense industry has very quickly come to be dominated by women. All three of the companies bidding for this contract are headed by women: Marillyn Hewson is the chairman, CEO, and president,
of Lockheed Martin; Leanne Caret is the CEO and president of defense, space, and security, at Boeing; and Eren Ozmen is the owner, president, and chairwoman of Sierra Nevada Corp. (Her husband, Faith, is the CEO).

According to the Pew Research Center, women account for nearly 19% of the CEOs in aerospace and defense, compared to 5% across all companies.