Sikorsky Wins $1.3 Bln U.S. Air Force Contract For New Combat Rescue Helicopters

dpa-AFX International Compact |

HARTFORD (dpa-AFX) - Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of diversified conglomerate United Technologies Corp. (UTX), on Thursday won a $1.28 billion contract from the U.S. Air Force contract to develop new combat search and rescue helicopters to replace its aging HH-60G PAVE HAWK helicopters.

"We are honored that the Air Force has selected Sikorsky to develop and build the new Combat Rescue Helicopter," Sikorsky President Mick Maurer said in a statement.

Stratford, Connecticut-based Sikorsky, which has been building combat search and rescue helicopters for the U.S. military since 1943, said it will develop a derivative of the UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopter model to replace the venerable PAVE HAWK.

This initial contract covers four new combat rescue helicopters, However, the company noted that, "this contract is the first step in the eventual production and fielding of up to 112 aircraft with a potential value of approximately $7.9 billion." The company added that the eventual numbers would be determined year-by-year depending on the budget availability.

The company noted that the engineering & manufacturing development contract includes development and integration of the rescue mission systems, delivery of four combat rescue helicopters, as well as seven aircrew and maintainer training systems.

The company added that the Initial training of Air Force aircrew and maintainers and five combat rescue helicopters are also expected to be delivered by 2020, once additional aircraft and training options are exercised.

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) will be the major subsystems supplier for the contract. The Air Force announced the decision to replace the PAVE HAWK helicopters in 2010 after 15 years of repeated unsuccessful efforts to do so.

The derivative of the UH-60M BLACK HAWK aircraft, named CRH-60, will feature higher internal fuel capability than the old HH-60G helicopter, and increased internal cabin space.

The new helicopters will also feature the T700-GE-701D engines, composite wide-chord main rotor blades, and fatigue- and corrosion-resistant machined aero-structures to sustain 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.

UTX closed Thursday's regular trading session at $115.75, down $0.37 or 0.32\% on a volume of 2.91 million shares.

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