Marine One gets $471M ‘go’ order for Sikorsky in Stratford
STRATFORD — The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky a follow-on contract for $471 million to build six new helicopters for the White House, part of a fleet planned to total 23 aircraft to carry the president and other staff.
The VH-92A is derived from the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter design, and will replace VH-3D Sea King and VH-60N White Hawk helicopters currently used for Marine One transport.
Half the work will occur at Sikorsky’s headquarters plant in Stratford, where the company reported having more than 7,600 employees, with the rest of the work occurring mostly at a facility in Coatesville, Pa.
Sikorsky has built six VH-92A helicopters to date, five of which have undergone more than 1,000 flight test hours in Maryland. The newest request pushes to in excess of $1 billion the Pentagon’s commitment for VH-92A helicopters and supporting parts and services.
In separate Sikorsky news, the company provided Pentagon officials with a mini air show on Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla., to demonstrate flight capabilities for three aircraft under development: the SB>1 Defiant and the Raider X, which both feature stacked rotor sets that spin in opposite directions and a rear “pusher” prop to achieve greater speeds; and the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft, a prototype Sikorsky is using to test remote piloting and autonomous operating technologies.
Textron subsidiary Bell Helicopter is competing with Sikorsky and Boeing to win a design contest for the next generation of vertical lift aircraft envisioned as replacing the Sikorsky Black Hawk and variant models, as well as other types of combat, surveillance and utility helicopters. Any resulting design win could set the manufacturer for decades of steady military contracts as replacement aircraft are fielded by the service branches.
According to a Defense News report on Thursday that included video footage of the SB>1 Defiant in flight, the secretary of the U.S. Army told journalists on Thursday that Bell and the Sikorsky-Boeing team are “making the decision very difficult for us” given the capabilities of SB>1 Defiant and the Bell Valor prototype, which like Bell’s V-22 Osprey features rotors that lift the aircraft vertically before tilting forward to propel it forward like a turbo-prop airplane.
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman