WASHINGTON – The Air Force awarded a contract Thursday that could be worth up to $8 billion to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. to build as many as 112 combat rescue helicopters, the second major Pentagon helicopter contract the company has won in recent weeks.
In May, Sikorsky won the coveted contract to build the Marine One fleet of presidential helicopters for the Navy. In both cases, Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies, was the only bidder, which sparked some concern about whether the Pentagon was getting the best deal.
But in a statement, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the contract came in $700 million below the government’s target.
“The government has performed a thorough analysis of the proposed price and concluded this contract award is a very good buy for the taxpayer,” she said.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, combat rescue helicopters, which perform the “sacred mission” of rescuing wounded troops, have saved over 5,000 people, the Air Force said. The initial contract is for $1.28 billion for engineering and manufacturing development.
In a statement, the company said it would develop a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk for the mission.
“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,” Sikorsky President Mick Maurer said. “I’m tremendously pleased that we will continue to do so for years to come.”