The United States Air Force has awarded Sikorsky Aircraft a $1.28 billion contract to develop new combat search and rescue helicopters.
The four combat rescue mission helicopters will be a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk. Under the engineering and manufacturing development contract, Sikorsky will develop and integrate rescue mission systems, and deliver the four helicopters and seven aircrew and maintainer training systems.
Initial training of Air Force aircrew and maintainers and five combat rescue helicopters are also expected to be delivered by 2020. Sikorsky says this contract could potentially be worth $7.9 billion if the Air Force follows through with plans to produce and field up to 112 aircraft. This will depend on Congressional and Department of Defense funding priorities.
Sikorsky has an helicopter completion center in Coatesville.
“We are honored that the Air Force has selected Sikorsky to develop and build the new combat rescue helicopter,” said Mick Maurer, Sikorsky president.
“Since 1943, Sikorsky has proudly provided the combat rescue helicopter platform to enable the Air Force to perform one of its most important and sacred missions – bringing our downed service members home safely. I’m tremendously pleased that we will continue to do so for years to come.”
The Air Force announced in 2010 that it would replace its aging HH-60G PAVE HAWK helicopters. Sikorsky, joined by Lockheed Martin as the major subsystems supplier, offered a UH-60M derivative to replace the venerable PAVE HAWK, also made by Sikorsky, as the Air Force’s new combat rescue helicopter.
The aircraft features increased internal fuel capability, compared with today’s HH-60G helicopter, giving the CRH-60 the required range, while increasing its internal cabin space. Like the UH-60M helicopter, the aircraft will feature T700-GE-701D engines, composite wide-chord main rotor blades, and fatigue- and corrosion-resistant machined aero-structures for maneuverability at high density altitudes.
“We are proud to expand our long-standing relationship with the U.S. Air Force and Sikorsky, providing a new aircraft system capable of performing the vital personnel recovery missions, including combat rescue and casualty evacuation,” said Dale Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business.
Sikorsky has produced more than 700 H-60M BLACK HAWK helicopters for the U.S. government and militaries worldwide since production aircraft deliveries began in 2007.