US Army Chooses Sikorsky Rival for Black Hawk Replacement
The U.S. Army awarded Textron Inc.’s Bell unit a $1.3 billion contract Dec. 5 for its next-generation helicopter program over Stratford-based Sikorsky.
Pentagon officials chose Bell’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft over the transformational, high-speed Defiant X prototype [pictured above] developed by Sikorsky in partnership with Boeing.
The Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program, designed to replace Sikorsky’s iconic Black Hawk helicopter, was one of two defense programs in which the Lockheed Martin subsidiary was a finalist.
Sikorsky’s Raider X prototype remains in contention for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, also in competition with Bell.
In a statement, Sikorsky and Boeing officials said they “remain confident Defiant X is the transformational aircraft the U.S. Army requires to accomplish its complex missions today and well into the future. We will evaluate our next steps after reviewing feedback from the Army.”
Sikorsky and Boeing can challenge the Army’s decision, as Sikorsky did successfully 15 years ago with another military helicopter program contract award.
Connecticut lawmakers approved an agreement between the state and Sikorsky in April that was connected to the helicopter manufacturer securing one or both Army contracts.
Under the agreement, Sikorsky committed to employing a minimum of 7,000 full-time workers in Connecticut and maintain its headquarters and primary production facilities here through 2042.
“Sikorsky is a legacy Connecticut company with one of the best trained workforces in the world, and while leadership takes the time to review their bid to understand more about the Army’s decision, we stand behind them and their employees,” he said.
In a statement, Gov. Ned Lamont called the Army’s decision “disappointing,” adding that “it’s important to remember you can’t fly without Connecticut.”
“The state will continue to work closely with Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky to secure future opportunities for the people of Connecticut to make the most advanced aircraft in the skies.”
Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner David Lehman told the Connecticut Mirror that “the aerospace and defense cluster is very, very strong in the state of Connecticut.”
“The administration is going to work with companies like Sikorsky to make sure that strength continues,” he said.
Supply Chain Impact
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said Sikorsky’s agreement with the state also set annual spending minimums dedicated to the company’s Connecticut suppliers—beginning at $300 million—and capital spending requirements that start at $70 million a year.
“Manufacturing accounts for roughly 10% of the state’s economy, and every manufacturing job supports up to five other jobs in the state,” DiPentima said.
“Sikorsky’s increase in supply chain spending has a ripple effect well beyond our manufacturing sector, impacting many small businesses in a variety of industries.”
DiPentima noted that Sikorsky exceeded commitments it made to the state in an earlier, 2016 agreement to increase its workforce and and double its annual spending with in-state suppliers to $750 million by 2032.
“I cannot overstate how important Sikorsky is to Connecticut’s economy and its manufacturing ecosystem,” he said.
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