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    USAF to Award Combat Rescue Helicopter Contract by End of June

    A further contract is expected to be awarded to the team of Lockheed Martin and Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft next month.

    The US Air Force will award the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) contract by the end of June.

    The multibillion-dollar contract calls for a new generation of 112 combat search-and-rescue helicopters.

    Rendering of the new combat rescue helicopter that would be built by Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft​

    In March, the Air Force announced it would realign about $430 million from other priorities — beyond fiscal year 2014 through 2019 — so it could award the CRH contract to Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

    While Sikorsky would provide the choppers, Lockheed’s Owego workforce would be assigned to handle the new helicopter’s modernized mission systems and other special equipment.

    Getting a piece of the CRH contract would be just the latest win for Lockheed Martin in Owego, which has approximately 2,600 employees.

    Construction is ongoing on an estimated $19.3 million Manufacturing Center of Excellence at the Owego campus, which is expected to create 130 jobs. Operations are transitioning from Lockheed’s Akron, Ohio, plant — one of several scheduled to close in mid-2015 — to the Owego facility. That transition will occur over the next 18 months.

    On May 7, the US Navy announced the Lockheed-Sikorsky team had won the $1.2 billion contract to build the next generation of presidential helicopters. Last Friday, politicians and Lockheed Martin officials held a 30-minute ceremony to celebrate the contract win and an upcoming period of growth for the Owego plant.

    At the event, US Sen. Charles Schumer said the Lockheed-Sikorsky team is the only bidder for the CRH contract, which, like the presidential helicopter program, could create or sustain hundreds of jobs at the Owego facility.

    “These two great flying machines will be made local here in Owego — here at Lockheed Martin — and help provide employment for years and years and years to come,” said Schumer, D-N.Y. “With Lockheed Martin on a stable flight pattern for the next decade with more jobs on the horizon, for all of us, there is nowhere to go but up.”

  • #2
    USAF Assist Norwegian Partners

    Airmen from the 426th Air Base Squadron recently participated in training alongside rescue crews from the Royal Norwegian air force's 330th Rescue Squadron, May 13.

    Four Airmen volunteered to serve as stranded seafarers in the frigid North Sea, so the Norwegian aircrew could maintain qualifications and other local naval units could exercise rescue and survival operations.

    "This exercise was premised off mutual respect and trust in our partnership," said Maj. Kevin Catron, the 426th ABS Staff Judge Advocate. "Norway remains a very close ally to the United States and anything that we can do to further that bond and cement that relationship is an important mission of the 426th ABS."

    Staff Sgt. Jennifer Thaxton dangles from a Royal Norwegian air force helicopter during an exercise May 13, 2014, in the North Sea. Thaxton and three other Airmen from the 426th Air Base Squadron volunteered to support training and certification efforts of the RNAF 330th Rescue Squadron. Thaxton is the 426th ABS custodian of postal effects

    Airmen with the 426th ABS have worked to develop strong ties with local military units, so it was no surprise to be offered such a unique training opportunity, Catron said.

    "The 426th ABS tries to build rapport and collaborate with the local Norwegian military units," Catron said. "This particular unit, the 330th Rescue Squadron, offered up a training opportunity for those of us willing to assist in the effort."

    The exercise involved orientation and mission briefings, followed by a ride out to the raft in the North Sea. The helicopter lowered the Airmen into the emergency life raft, and then made several practice runs to shore.

    "It was pretty awesome, because from where I was standing inside the door, I couldn't see the raft below the helicopter," said Capt. Morgan Cowle, the 426th ABS director of operations. "It was like taking a leap of faith, holding on to the harness, being lowered into a raft that I couldn't see."

    Even though the weather was calm, the Norwegians had a couple surprises to simulate stormy conditions, Catron said.

    "The downdraft from the helicopter was kicking up the water and making things pretty turbulent, but there were also two boats racing around the raft as part of the training to create large waves and spray more water over raft to simulate stormy seas," Catron added. “It was awesome. I swear they laughed every time they buzzed our raft.”

    Even though they knew it was just an exercise, the Airmen still experienced the same raw emotions anyone can have while stranded on the ocean.

    "Traditionally, they will use Navy personnel who are familiar with the process and, as the pilot put it, 'cheat by helping the engineer.'" Catron said. "With us, they saw the panic, fear and hesitation they will experience by hoisting civilians from an emergency life raft in a real life situation."

    Each of the Airmen said they enjoyed the exercise and are ready to volunteer again. Even though it was an exciting experience, the Airmen also valued seeing NATO partners in action.

    "The interaction we have with our Norwegian Air Force counterparts gives us valuable insight into the similarities between us and allows us to experience each other's cultures," Cowle said. "Working on a NATO base, we are exposed to many different nations' military services every day, but being able to interact and train with the Norwegian Air Force in their own element is an altogether different, and awesome, experience."


    • #3
      USAF CSAR Contract Goes to Sikorsky-Lockheed Partnership

      The US Air Force awarded Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin a $1.3 billion contract Thursday for the Combat Rescue Helicopter program.

      The deal for 112 Sikorsky Black Hawks, outfitted with Lockheed mission equipment, brings to a close a more than decade-long Air Force quest to purchase a replacement for its HH-60G combat search-and-rescue helicopters. The Sikorsky-Lockheed team was the only bidder in the competition.

      The contract could be worth as much as $7.9 billion, the Air Force said in a statement. The contract awarded Thursday includes funding for the first four aircraft.

      USAF to have new Black Hawk combat SAR helicopter

      Speaking at a Defense Writers Group breakfast last week, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James called the Sikorsky-Lockheed proposal “technically in good shape and was quite a bit below the cost analysis that the Pentagon felt was appropriate. So it appeared to be a very good deal for the taxpayer from a cost perspective.”

      Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, in a statement said: “We are committed to ensuring our airmen are equipped to rescue America’s warriors whenever and wherever necessary. This contract secures that mission for many years to come.”

      The aircraft will be built by Sikorsky in Connecticut and Lockheed will install the mission systems in upstate New York.

      “We are honored that the Air Force has selected Sikorsky to develop and build the new Combat Rescue Helicopter,” Sikorsky President Mick Maurer said in a statement. “Since 1943, Sikorsky has proudly provided the combat rescue helicopter platform to enable the Air Force to perform one of its most important and sacred missions — bringing our downed service members home safely. I’m tremendously pleased that we will continue to do so for years to come.”

      “The Combat Rescue Helicopter program will equip service men and women with modernized mission systems and special equipment for the combat rescue mission, which is essential to sustaining the United States Air Force’s core service function of personnel recovery,” Dale Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training, said in a statement. “We are proud to expand our long-standing relationship with the US Air Force and Sikorsky, providing a new aircraft system capable of performing the vital personnel recovery missions, including combat rescue and casualty evacuation.”

      The contract award is a huge political win for Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and the entire Connecticut congressional delegation, who pressured the Pentagon to allocate funding for the program despite spending cuts across the Pentagon budget.

      “These new combat rescue helicopters will play a major role in ensuring that our troops can be evacuated safely from whatever dangerous situation they face, and I am proud that this incredible new aircraft will be produced right here in the Southern Tier,” Schumer said in a statement. “This contract is another major win for Tioga County and the entire Southern Tier economy, and I will keep fighting to bring more federal contracts to New York so that we can continue to create good-paying, high-skilled jobs.”

      While the award is considered a win for the combat search-and-rescue community, it has been criticized by defense companies who have argued the requirements were written for a Black Hawk, hence preventing them from competing.​


      • #4
        USAF to Replace Hueys

        The USAF is to replace its UH-1N Hueys, including its VIP flying unit based at Andrews AFB.

        The US Air Force has released a request for proposals to replace its UH-1N Hueys, and to procure up to 84 new helicopters.

        Three months after the USAF reset the Huey replacement programme with a new request for information released in September, the service is forging ahead with its first draft RFP.

        A USAF UH-1N from the VIP Flight at Andrews Air Force Base

        The air force has called for the replacement helicopter to be able to carry at least nine combat troops plus equipment at a speed of at least 135kt. In September, the USAF’s acquisition chief clarified that the replacement Hueys would not be required to carry more than nine troops.

        The aircraft must also achieve an unrefuelled minimum range of 225nm (407) with a 3h endurance, according to USAF.

        After initially considering a sole-source buy of Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks, the service announced earlier this year it would move ahead with an open competition. Both the USAF’s recent announcement and the annual defence policy bill state the service will conduct a full and open competition.

        The competition is likely to invite at least four bids — UH-60M, Airbus UH-72A Lakotas, Leonardo AW139 and Bell Helicopter UH-1Y.

        The long-delayed recapitalisation programme will replace the USAF’s inventory of 59 Vietnam-era UH-1N Huey helicopters that support the service’s nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.


        • #5

          Boeing-Leonardo Win US Air Force Huey Replacement Contract

          The Boeing-Leonardo alliance has this week been awarded the USAF's Huey replacement contact.

          The program awarded today is valued at $2.4 billion for up to 84 helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment.

          “We are grateful for the Air Force’s confidence in our MH-139 team,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift. “The MH-139 exceeds mission requirements, it’s also ideal for VIP transport, and it offers the Air Force up to $1 billion in acquisition and lifecycle cost savings.”

          The Boeing-Leonardo MH-139 Huey replacement

          The MH-139 derives from the Leonardo AW139, which is used by more than 270 governments, militaries and companies worldwide. Leonardo will assemble the helicopters at its northeast Philadelphia plant, with Boeing integrating military-specific components at its facility south of that city.

          The contract also includes operations, maintenance, training systems and support equipment for the MH-139 aircraft.