In February 2010, Sikorsky announced an indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity agreement with the US Department of State to purchase up to 110 modernized S-61N/T Sea King helicopters, for itself or for other government departments. USDoS is expected to be the largest customer, buying them for “passenger and cargo transport missions in support of its worldwide operations.”
That will reduce, but not eliminate, the State Department’s regular need to lease helicopters for this purpose. As one example, the helicopter that spirited Rep. Alan Grayson [D-FL] out of Niger during the 2010 coup was flown by Blackwater/Xe’s Presidential Airways. The Sikorsky contract probably won’t change that sort of need, but it will make a difference in countries like Afghanistan. Because of the current state of helicopter support there, the role of private contractors to fill the gaps has been growing. The initial S-61T delivery order has been sent there, as an alternative the ensures availability for the department’s personnel. That has been followed by more orders, and Sikorsky is pointedly touting its S-61Ts as a broader alternative to leased machines in theater – many of which are earlier-model S-61s.