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US Air Force awards contract for new combat rescue helicopter

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The UH-60M Black Hawk. Photo: Sikorsky Aircraft

STRATFORD, CONNECTICUT (BNS): The US Air Force has awarded contract to Sikorsky Aircraft to develop new combat search and rescue helicopters.

Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., will develop a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk model for the Air Force's rescue mission, the Company said.

The award of an estimated $1.28 billion Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) 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.

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.

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.

Eventual production quantities would be determined year-by-year over the life of the programme, based on funding allocations set by Congress and the U S Department of Defence acquisition priorities, it said.

The Air Force announced in 2010 that it would replace its aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters

Sikorsky, joined by Lockheed Martin as the major subsystems supplier, offered a UH-60M derivative to replace the venerable Pave Hawk, also made by Sikorsky, as the Air Force's new Combat Rescue Helicopter.

The aircraft features increased internal fuel capability, compared with today's HH-60G helicopter, thereby giving the CRH-60 the required range, while increasing its internal cabin space.

Like the UH-60M helicopter, the aircraft will feature 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.

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