STRATFORD, Conn., June 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force has tapped Sikorsky Aircraft to develop new combat search-and-rescue helicopter based on the company's UH-60M Black Hawk.
The engineering and manufacturing development contract is worth an estimated $1.28 billion.
"We are honored that the Air Force has selected Sikorsky to develop and build the new Combat Rescue Helicopter," said Sikorsky President Mick Maurer. "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 award covers development and integration of the rescue mission systems; delivery of four combat rescue helicopters; and delivery of aircrew and maintainer training systems.
Sikorsky said the contract is the first step in the eventual production and fielding of as many as 112 aircraft with a potential value of approximately $7.9 billion.
The Air Force said in 2010 that it planned to replace its HH-60G Pave Hawk aircraft. Sikorsky, with Lockheed Martin as the major sub-systems supplier, then offered a UH-60M derivative. The derivative will feature T700-GE-701D engines, composite wide-chord main rotor blades, and fatigue- and corrosion-resistant machined aero-structures.