Sikorsky Marks Historic Black Hawk Milestone
Stratford-based Sikorsky celebrated a historic milestone Jan. 20 with the delivery of a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter to the U.S. Army.
That delivery represented the 5,000th Hawk variant manufactured by the Lockheed Martin subsidiary, marking an extraordinary 45 years of innovation.
“Sikorsky, as a company, has been forged by the Black Hawk,” said Sikorsky president Paul Lemmo. “And it is fitting that we are delivering the 5,000th Hawk aircraft in our 100th year.
“This aircraft is a source of great paying jobs at the home of the world’s greatest aircraft maker and a tribute to our workforce.
“The Black Hawk and its variants deliver when reliability and performance are nonnegotiable and represent an incredible culture of innovation.
“innovation is part of our DNA, and it continues to flourish here.”
A mainstay of U.S. armed forces since 1978, the Black Hawk and its cousins are in military and civilian service across the globe, supporting combat and supply missions, fighting wildfires, and mounting search-and-rescue operations.
“This aircraft is a source of pride for our partners around the world,” Lemmo said. “Its versatility and interoperability are unrivaled—no other aircraft can do the breadth of missions that this aircraft can do.”
Lemmo paid tribute to Sikorsky’s workforce, recognizing a number of employees during the delivery ceremony with 40-plus years service building the Black Hawk who are also “mentoring the next generation workforce.”
He added that the Black Hawk will “continue to support medium-lift requirements for the U.S. military and international operators for decades into the future.”
Col. Calvin Lane, utility helicopter project manager for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office-Aviation, said the Black Hawk has supported “every major contingency operation the Army has executed.”
“Even though the helicopter has been around longer than most of the soldiers it now supports, the Army plans for it to be in front line service another 40 years and beyond,” he said.
Sikorsky plays a critical role in Connecticut’s economy, employing over 8,000 people at its Stratford, Bridgeport, and Trumbull facilities.
The aerospace manufacturer has 242 Connecticut companies in its supply chain and is fulfilling commitments to increase both in-state supply chain spending and capital investments.
Last July, Sikorsky signed a five-year, $2.3 billion contract with the U.S. Army to build 120 Black Hawks, with options for an additional 135 aircraft, bringing the total potential contract value to $4.4 billion.
In December, the U.S. Navy authorized full rate production for Sikorsky’s CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift cargo helicopter, increasing output to more than 20 aircraft annually.
Gov. Ned Lamont praised Sikorsky’s “innovation and entrepreneurship,” adding the company “continues to make the very best choppers in the world.”
“We will make sure that the next generation workforce has the skills you need,” he said. “My obligation to you is that we will continue to train these amazing workers and support this ecosystem.”
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said the milestone was “testament to Sikorsky’s remarkable workforce, its Connecticut supply chain companies, and a legacy of innovation that stretches back 100 years to the legendary Igor Sikorsky.”
Sikorsky has challenged the U.S. Army’s choice of Bell Textron’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor airplane for its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program.
The Pentagon selected the V-280 over the high-speed Defiant X helicopter developed by Sikorsky in partnership with Boeing.
While a decision by the U.S. Government Accountability Office is not due until April, Lemmo said regardless of the outcome, “the Black Hawk will be flying for at least the next four decades.”
“For the foreseeable future, we don’t see any significant impact to the workforce here,” he said.
Two members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation—Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Senator Chris Murphy—said that Bell’s proposal was costlier than the Sikorsky-Boeing bid and they were seeking more details from the Pentagon.
“As representatives of the taxpayers, we deserve to get a full briefing, especially if there’s a major difference in cost, which there clearly appears to be in this case,” Murphy told reporters.
Sikorsky’s Raider X prototype remains in contention for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, also in competition with Bell.
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