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Sikorsky opens combat rescue helicopter testing facility

By Ryan Maass
Sikorsky's Combat Rescue Helicopter program is a U.S. Air Force project aiming to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks. Photo by Lockheed Martin.
Sikorsky's Combat Rescue Helicopter program is a U.S. Air Force project aiming to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks. Photo by Lockheed Martin.

STRATFORD, Conn., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky has formally opened its new testing facility for its developing Combat Rescue Helicopter.

The new facility, known as a Systems Integration Lab, measures 2,500 square feet and includes four separate laboratories for testing avionics, flight controls, electrical power and integrated vehicle diagnostics.

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"This facility provides a simulated flight environment allowing us to test key subsystems individually and then fully integrated. This will identify any issues before advancing to test flight, and will help reduce the number of required flight test hours, resulting in time and cost savings for the customer," Sikorsky program director Tim Healy said in a press release.

Sikorsky's Combat Rescue Helicopter program is being developed for the U.S. Air Force. Under the program, the company has been contracted to build 112 helicopters to replace the branch's aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks. The new rotary-wing aircraft will be designed to conduct search-and-rescue missions in combat settings.

Opening the facility, Sikorsky officials say, is a critical step forward in the program.

"Achieving this milestone ahead of schedule was a strong indication the program is well prepared for detailed design and subsequent production," Healy added. "I'm confident we have a solid plan to meet the USAF accelerated schedule to bring the CRH to the warfighter six months faster. That is our intent, and we are in a good position to do that."

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The facility's construction is part of a $1.2 billion contract which includes the delivery of four HH-60W helicopters, 6 aircrew and maintenance training devices, and additional supporting equipment.

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