Sikorsky to Begin Building New Air Force Helo

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has won an Air Force contract to begin developing the service’s next-generation combat rescue helicopter.

The company, part of Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp., on Thursday received a $1.3 billion deal to build four prototypes, as well as mission and training systems, the company said in an announcement. Sikorsky has partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp. to supply the subsystem technology.

The agreement may lead to the eventual production and fielding of 112 choppers as part of a program potentially valued at $7.9 billion to replace the Air Force’s fleet of HH-60 Pave Hawks, also made by Sikorsky, according to the statement. The company was the sole bidder for the acquisition effort.

“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,” President Mick Maurer said in the statement. “I’m tremendously pleased that we will continue to do so for years to come.”

A derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk, the new helicopter will feature more cabin space and internal fuel capacity than today’s Pave Hawk, giving it better range, Sikorsky said.

The aircraft will also feature T700-GE-701D engines made by General Electric Co., composite wide-chord main rotor blades, and fatigue- and corrosion-resistant machined aero-structures to sustain maneuverability at high-density altitudes, the company said.

The program almost didn’t receive funding because of deficit-reduction legislation known as the Bipartisan Budget Act and automatic spending reductions known as sequestration.

Indeed, an overview of the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 stated the program would be delayed.

“Due to the funding constraints of the BBA, the FY 2015 budget delays the CRH program for 2 years to fully investigate lower cost options,” it states. “There is no funding in the FY 2015 request for CRH; however, the development program is funded beginning in FY 2016.”

Turns out, Congress was able to find some money for the program, after all, and the service, led by its new secretary, Deborah Lee James, decided to move forward with the effort.

“The combat rescue helicopter was literally teetering on the brink,” she said last week during a breakfast in Washington, D.C., with defense reporters. Sikorsky’s bid came in “quite a bit below” what Pentagon analysts had expected and “appeared to be a very good deal for the taxpayer from a cost perspective,” she said.

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Brendan McGarry
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  • blight_

    Quick, Modules to make any *H-60 able to do the mission of any other *H-60.

  • rtsy

    $1.3 billion for four helicopters is considered a “very good deal”?

    • blight_

      It does sound rather steep.

      However, the “eventual production and fielding of 112 choppers as part of a program potentially valued at $7.9 billion” sounds like it may be a little more tolerable. But we’ll see.

    • Stan

      It’s a good deal for UT and whoever get’s their campaign donations.

    • RHapke

      When you consider that price most likely includes software development, engineering costs to modify the basic airframe (there will be quite a bit of that), hardware integration, training device development, building of initial training devices(Simulators), training courseware along with development testing costs. That’s the problem with press releases/articles like this. They only say how many aircraft your getting for that price, but not what else is actually being bought for that amount. Unless you are unfortunate enough like I was to get stuck in the acquisition community for a few years you wouldn’t know this information.

      • rtsy

        All of that still seems like it shouldn’t cost over a BILLION dollars. It’s probably just going to grease the palms of some Russian billionaires.

        • ronaldo

          Pretty sure that you’ve no experience or invested no time in understanding any type of military hardware. the LM component of this project is likely to be as much as the engine and airframe entity.

          Also, just what facts do you base your outrage on ?

          * crickets*

          • rtsy

            The ever increasing cost of military equipment and the ever decreasing returns for said equipment.

            The American military talks a really good game but its been over half a century since we won a war outright.

            But of course, no one actually wants to accept the reality of it. Lets just chant USA a few more times while we continue to fall behind.

    • bart hooliman

      watch the production model get cancelled and the seals ending up with four new stealth choppers.

    • Eisenfaust

      Its $1.3×10^9 to develop the system genius. Do you even understand how the technology sector works? In many cases choppers are more sophisticated than fighter jets, the CH-53J costs much more than an F18C, so you can understand that a helicopter that must infiltrate hostile airspace to exfil stranded troops could cost a fair deal more than your everyday news chopper.

  • hibeam

    “The company was the sole bidder for the acquisition effort”… That will help keep costs down. Maybe the Obama web site team can write the software.

    • rtsy

      God, where were you when Bush jr. was in power?

  • Lance

    SO? They replaced a Blackhawk with another Blackhawk BIG deal.

    • Bob

      Strangely enough I agree with lance. I hope that we see helo tech advancing, not merely “10% better!” that this expensive program is looking like..ah64e,uh60m, ch47f, arh, anyone?

    • Derek Howe

      no, the VH-3’s are getting replaced by the S-92’s. Do a little homework instead of just looking at the pretty picture…

      • FormerDirtDart

        This article has nothing to do with VH-3s or S-92s
        Do a little reading.

    • Eisenfaust

      You’re judging the platform by its outward appearance. What’s really changing with choppers are countermeasures, Low-Observability, and noise dampening. Using existing architectures cuts costs, improves reliability, and eliminates nasty surprises like we have had with the JSF

  • jamesb

    A BIGGER Blackhawk…..

    Notice that just like Marine One….

    NO ONE ELSE bids these contracts?
    Maybe THATS how you get 4 choppers for a BILLION Three…..

  • Mystick

    I think the cost would be lower on module upgrades of an existing airframe… like they do with every other aircraft they fly(except the F-35, but then again, that’s not exactly flying)

  • ronaldo

    The gossip in the helo business is that it is actually the Sikorsky S-92, not the h-60 family

  • Robbie

    Sikorsky’s bid came in $700M under the government’s estimate. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. The $1.3B is for upfront R&D and will be eventually amortized over all 110 or so airframes that are bought…..

    • blight_

      So long as the government keeps the number of airframes projected, and doesn’t let sequester-deathspiralitis take over.

    • Jonathan

      Thank you, thank you, thank you……….. someone finally gets it! I’m in the defense industry and sell to Sikorsky (and many others). I appreciate your comments. The rest of the folks don’t understand the way it works.

  • Dig-Dean

    I don’t think the DOD can buy anything for less than a million dollars now days

    I hear they are looking for a new toothpaste vendor, budget is set for $4.8 Million for high tech tooth paste for the troops for the next two years

  • Dfens

    More free money for a defense contactor. Oh, don’t worry the US taxpayer is more than happy to shoulder all the risk while the corporate big shots take their $20+ million dollar salaries to the bank. Corporate welfare at its finest.

    • rbm

      Remember that the real people who will be supported are the pilots and ground pounders that need combat rescue. That’s what we are investing in.

      • Dfens

        Yeah, that’s what we are “investing in”. We just have to make sure the right people get theirs first, right?

  • jamesb

    $4.8 M ot Billion?

    Out tax dollars at work!….

  • William

    Might be a chance for a leap forward with a stealth blackhawk to go into a rescue unseen and unheard, kinda like the special ops blackhawk used to sneek into Pakastan to get UBL. It is a mission match for a stealth helicopter. Should be able to get four of these for the $1.3 billion being used to update a very old design.

  • FormerDirtDart

    OK, there are some comments that this HH-60 replacement will be a derivative of the S-92, based on “gossip in the helo business”
    That really makes no sense at all.
    Mainly because if Sikorsky was basing the Combat Rescue Helicopter off of the S-92, Sikorsky and UTD would damn sure be advertising it.
    Given the setbacks in the Canadian CH-148 Cyclone program (a S-92 derivative) they sure as heck would be telling the world that someone else was procuring another tactical variant of the family, and had faith in the airframe. Especially being the first US procurement on a military variant of the S-92 program.
    But, they’re not. In their own news release they specifically state it will be based off of the UH-60M, and even call it the CRH-60.
    To me, it seems more likely they will take a UH-60M and configure it more closely to the layout of the Coast Guard Jayhawk and Navy Rescue Hawk.



    • UAVgeek

      Hey learn to type with the caps lock off. What is this 1995?

    • WRM

      It disintegrated after hitting the ground at cruise speed due to the multiple bird strikes by geese

  • Jeff the Huey Guy

    It’s about gall durned time we get a new rescue bird! For what it’s worth, S92 / H-60 main rotor system is real close. Under inspection, the was little to no difference between the two rotor systems and / or drive train. Now if we can just get the darn things fielded in time…

  • Jeff the Huey Guy

    It’s about time we get a new rescue bird! For what it’s worth, S92 / H-60 main rotor system is real close. Under inspection, the was little to no difference between the two rotor systems and / or drive train. Now if we can just get them fielded in time.

  • Brad Ferguson

    Why not look at the V-22 Osprey ? Much longer range than a helo and much faster.

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