WASHINGTON: The US Army and Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky have inked a five-year production contract for 120 H-60 Black Hawk helicopters, worth about $2.3 billion.
The Army has an option of purchasing an additional 135 helicopters, potentially upping the contract value to $4.4 billion for a total of 255 helicopters, according to the announcement from Program Executive Office Aviation on Monday.
“This Multi-Year agreement allows the Army to meet current and future capability needs through upgrades, remanufacturing, replacement, and technology insertions,” said Col. Calvin Lane, the Utility Helicopters project manager, in a statement. “The efficiencies of this contract make the best use of limited resources, and result in direct savings to the Army and to taxpayers.”
The first deliveries will begin in July, with deliveries running through 2027. Sikorsky will deliver UH-60 and HH-60 MEDEVAC M model Black Hawks, which have increased situational awareness, improved payload and further range than other models.
The contract is the tenth multi-year production contract the Army has signed with Sikorsky. The service’s announcement stated that the multi-year agreements “provides significant savings over year-to-year contracts,” but didn’t specify the savings.
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Actual procurement quantities will be set by funding specifications finalized by Congress, according to the release. In its fiscal 2023 budget request, the Army requested 25 UH-60 Black Hawks. The Army has over 2,100 Black Hawks in its fleet today and will continue to operate the aircraft for decades to come. On a trip to SIkorsky’s production line in Stratford, Conn. last month, Sikorsky officials told reporters that the 5,000th Black Hawk would reach its production line this year.
“Decades of Black Hawk production and enhancements, strong program execution and close partnership with the Army has kept the program thriving, and this contract is a testament to that success,” said Nathalie Previte, vice president of Sikorsky’s Army and Air Force programs, in a statement. “Additionally, we continue to see strong international interest in the Black Hawk due to its versatility and proven record of providing unwavering support to the U.S. and nations around the globe.”
The Army is looking to modernize its helicopter fleet through its future vertical lift portfolio. That includes replacing the Black Hawk helicopter with the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, one of its one of its top 35 modernization priorities. The FLRAA platform with have longer range and higher speeds than the Black Hawk and geared toward near-peer competition with Russia and China. Sikorsky is submitting its Defiant X helicopter for the competition.
The Army plans to award the FLRAA contract in September. However, first FLRAA deliveries aren’t scheduled until around 2030, meaning the Black Hawk will continue to be an important aircraft with the Army’s aviation fleet for years.
“Sikorsky continues to invest in the Black Hawk platform – from sustainment to digital transformation and modernization – in order to provide our customers with the competitive edge they require,” Previte said. “We have aligned our investments with the Army’s technology roadmap, while leveraging Future Vertical Lift technologies to ensure the Black Hawk will be a key player in the Joint All Domain Operations environment and FVL ecosystem.”