In Big Blow for Sikorsky, Army Scraps Armed Scout Helicopter Program

Sikorsky was dealt a blow Thursday because the U.S. Army introduced it was scrapping plans for an armed scout helicopter that the Stratford-based producer and its dad or mum firm Lockheed Martin hoped to supply.

The choice comes a yr after Sikorsky misplaced out on the possibility to construct a brand new utility helicopter for the army department. Sikorsky’s president beforehand acknowledged the possibility to construct the utility helicopter — a alternative for the Black Hawk — and the scout helicopter that may very well be used for surveillance and reconnaissance as “existential” for the corporate’s future viability. Constructing a brand new fleet of scout helicopters might have introduced billions of {dollars} in Connecticut’s route.

In an announcement Thursday night, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin maintained the corporate’s “X2” helicopter design gives unparalleled velocity, vary and agilityh, and that it’s “assured” within the design for each U.S. and worldwide wants.

“To supply the U.S. army and its allies a decisive benefit to discourage battle now and sooner or later, there have to be a transformational enchancment in rotorcraft techniques capabilities — and a robust engineering workforce that may strengthen the nation’s forefront in rotorcraft innovation,” the Sikorsky assertion learn. “We’re upset on this determination and can await a U.S. Army debrief to higher perceive its selection.”

In a joint assertion, Connecticut’s Congressional delegation stated they need an in depth clarification from the Army on future plane capabilities and the way “the distinctive and seasoned workforce at Sikorsky for generations to return” could be utilized.

“We’re extraordinarily upset that the Army has determined to stroll away from the (Future Assault Reconnaissance Plane) program,” the assertion learn. “We have now been instructed on a number of events by the Army that FARA was their primary precedence. This can be a full reversal of that place.”

In a Thursday announcement, the Army referred to as the choice a “rebalance” that was primarily based on “classes realized and a sober evaluation of the trendy battlefield” in its phrases. Whereas the Army is not going to proceed with a brand new scout helicopter and can finish manufacturing of the UH-60V model of the Black Hawk, however will decide to a brand new contract to buy extra UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and promised “new investments” its UH-60L Black Hawk fleet with out offering fast specifics.

The Army indicated it can enhance its use of drones and space-based surveillance techniques as a substitute for the armed scout helicopter. Sikorsky had supplied the Raider X prototype, with Bell within the competitors as nicely with its 360 Invictus helicopter design.

“We’re studying from the battlefield — particularly in Ukraine — that aerial reconnaissance has basically modified,” stated Gen. Randy George, chief of workers of the Army. “Sensors and weapons mounted on a wide range of unmanned techniques and in house are extra ubiquitous, additional reaching, and extra cheap than ever earlier than. I’m assured the Army can ship for the Joint Pressure, each within the precedence theater and across the globe, by accelerating innovation, procurement and fielding of recent unmanned plane techniques, together with the Future Tactical Unmanned Plane System, Launched Results, and business small unmanned plane techniques.”

Christine Wormuth, secretary of the Army, acknowledged the Army stays “deeply dedicated to our aviation portfolio and to our companions within the aviation industrial base.”

Whereas Sikorsky anticipates many years extra work constructing Black Hawk helicopters and variants for the U.S. army and overseas international locations, in 2022 the Army selected a Bell tilt-rotor referred to as the V-280 Valor as its future workhorse for the eventual day when the Black Hawk is sidelined or phased out solely. Analysts have cited the V-280’s longer vary as a key driver for the Army determination, in anticipation of any future conflicts in japanese Europe or the Pacific Rim the place plane must traverse better distances between bases.

Sikorsky is now constructing a brand new fleet of heavy-lift helicopters for the U.S. Marine Corps referred to as the CH-53K King Stallion, in a contract valued in extra of $37 billion ultimately estimate by the Authorities Accountability Workplace. Work is basically full on a brand new fleet of helicopters for the White Home.


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