Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, has offered HH-60U utility helicopter, a variant of its UH-60M Black Hawk, for the U.S. Air Force (USAF) UH-1N Huey replacement program.
The Air Force already has three HH-60U Black Hawks in its inventory, which pilots and special mission aviators began flying in 2011.
HH-60U has unobstructed cabin space for nine security forces specialists, their gear, and ESR mission equipment box, plus two special mission aviators. It also has crashworthy cabin seating for eight VIPs and one special mission aviator.
Other than Sikorsky, Boeing, along with its partner Leonardo, formally offered a militarised version of Leonardo’s AgustaWestland AW139 called the MH-139 for the replacement competition. If successful, the bid would mark the first time Leonardo has sold a rotary-wing aircraft to the Pentagon.
But Bell, the manufacturer of the Huey light utility helicopter, will not be among the competitors.
Original RFP draft laid out specified that the replacement helicopters should be able to carry nine combat-loaded troops, as well as weapons, with the ability to hit cruise speeds of at least 135 knots.
The aircraft’s primary missions are guarding and protecting the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch sites. It has to be also used for search-and-rescue (SAR) missions, routine missile site support and aerial testing.
The aircraft should also provide secure and survivable emergency transport to support Continuity of Government Operations transport in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Air Force currently operates 62 Hueys but has a requirement to replace them with 84 aircraft. The service plans to award the contract in fiscal 2018, with the first operational helicopter delivery in the fiscal 2020-2021 timeframe.