July 3 (UPI) -- Sikorsky Aircraft has been awarded a $3.8 billion contract for the manufacturing and support of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The planned multi-year production run of Black Hawks, announced on June 30 by the Department of Defense, includes program management, systems engineering, and technical data on the aircraft.
Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn., and is projected to be completed by June 30, 2022. Fiscal 2010 and 2017 funds in the amount of $1.1 billion have been obligated at the time of award. The contract falls under foreign military sales to the KSA.
The UH-50 Black Hawk is the primary medium-lift transport helicopter of the U.S. Army and several other nations where it has been exported. It has been produced in many variants to perform a wide variety of missions.
It is suitable for troop and cargo transport, air assault, special operations, medical evacuation, search-and-rescue, aerial firefighting and other missions.
The rotorcraft has been adapted as the SH-60 Sea Hawk for naval operations, an electronic warfare platform and specialized models, such as the stealth variant used by Navy SEALs on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. It is used by 26 countries, and with upgrades has been in service since 1979.
The primary export model for delivery to the KSA is the S-79 Desert Hawk for the Royal Saudi Land Forces.The KSA is the the largest buyer of U.S. arms in the world. Potential arms deals totaling over $100 billion are still under negotiation.
Arms sales to the KSA have been controversial due to the Kingdom's human rights record and its ongoing U.S.-backed intervention in Yemen that has left thousands dead and has sparked a major humanitarian crisis.