United Technologies Sikorsky Aircraft unit and Lockheed Martin Corp. report they will combine their efforts to win the U.S. Air Force’s contract to replace its fleet of combat search and rescue helicopters. The two companies have formally agreed to offer an advanced version of Sikorsky's UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter for the Air Force's HH-60 Personnel Recovery Recapitalization program (HH-60 Recap).
Their proposal also would be operational with the U.S. Army (including as a medevac helicopter in the HH-60M configuration.)
Their agreement makes Sikorsky the prime contractor and Lockheed Martin the major subsystems supplier. The two companies have worked together in the past, supplying over 400 SH-60B and MH-60R/S mission-ready aircraft to the U.S. Navy.
"Our team has the resources and experience to rapidly deliver the proven UH-60M airframe design with mature situational awareness sensors and mission systems," stated Sikorsky Military Systems president Scott Starrett. "We believe a UH-60M aircraft missionized for the complexities of the combat search and rescue mission will fit seamlessly into established Air Force training and logistics operations, thus providing a fiscally responsible and reliable platform for rescue operations."
The HH-60 Recap program will replace 112 HH-60G PAVE HAWK™ helicopters in the current fleet with an equal number of new aircraft requiring minimum airframe modification or mission systems development. The initial operational capability of eight aircraft (four trainers, four mission-ready aircraft, and test aircraft) is expected in FY 2015.
In April, Sikorsky responded to the USAF’s HH-60 Recap request for information with details of how the UH-60M helicopter would be manufactured and integrated as a “low-risk, off-the-shelf solution” for the combat search and rescue mission.
Sikorsky details that the UH-60M it proposed features a strengthened airframe, wider rotor blades and more powerful engines than earlier-design Black Hawk helicopters. Sikorsky has delivered 200 'M' model helicopters to the U.S. Army since 2005.
Lockheed Martin’s contribution to the proposed design are integrated avionics and mission systems for other H-60 aircraft, including Army and Air Force special operations helicopters, and Air Force combat rescue helicopters.
"Lockheed Martin has 25 years of experience integrating mission systems for special operations and combat rescue helicopters," state v.p. of Lockheed Martin Aviation Systems, Dan Spoor. "We also can bring to the HH-60 Recap program the mature systems and readiness from our work on the prior CSAR-X competition."