Sikorsky Announces CSAR-X Helicopter Partnerships, Platform
As DID noted in our October 24, 2005 article “V-22 Bows out of CSAR-X/PRV Competition,” all of the key bidders except Sikorsky had formally announced their helicopter platforms for the $8-10 billion, 141-helicopter combat search and rescue contract to replace existing HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters. The gap has now been filled, however, as Sikorsky has just made its declaration along with some recent partnership announcements.
Aerospace Integration Corporation (AIC) will provide system engineering and related services, while Rockwell Collins will provide training systems that leverage work already done on Canada’s Maritime helicopter program. Both MoU signings took place at the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, FL – and the most significant aspect was Sikorsky’s public acknowledgment that the H-92 Superhawk would be its base CSAR-X platform.
Aerospace Integration Corporation (AIC) was billed as a “pace-setting systems design and integration company that delivers quick-response, concept-to-combat solutions for U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and other military and commercial operators. They specialize in aircraft systems design, technology innovation and total systems integration for SOF mission platforms.”
Under the teaming agreement to be negotiated based on the MOU, AIC would provide system engineering associated with the special mission systems on the HH-92, upply flight test support during the Operational Test and Evaluation phase of the CSAR-X program, and s a supply support interface for the U. S. Air Force. The HH-92 aircraft would receive mission systems modification at AIC facilities in Crestview, Florida. See Sikorsky release.
Rockwell Collins will provide seamless integration between the avionics system and the training systems for the HH-92, as part of Sikorsky’s goal to create a “total value and life support solution” via concurrent design of the aircraft, training system, and avionics. This is billed as a way to reduce overall program risk, and was openly acknowledged as building off of advances already being made in the Canadian Maritime Helicopter program.
The Canadian government has already contracted with Sikorsky for 28 H-92 helicopters to operate from its ships. Designated the CH-148 Cyclone, these helicopters will conduct a variety of missions including search and rescue, passenger and cargo transfer, medical evacuations and tactical transport.
In addition to Rockwell Collins’ proven avionics capabilities on the S-92 civilian helicopter, the company is also a proven supplier of rotary wing training systems, including work on the H-60 family that includes the MH-60s AFSOCOM will be replacing. See Sikorsky release.
As discussed in US CSAR Competition: And Boeing Makes 3…, the remaining field still leaves Boeing with a strong CSAR-X contender in the modified HH-47, based on their MH-47G Chinook special forces helicopter. Since the Chinook will remain in service until 2030, Boeing’s “old helicopter” option is actually an established airframe with a long term future.
Lockheed’s EH101/US 101 collaboration with Augusta-Westland may be the new VH-71 “Marine One” US Presidential helicopter and has some range and speed advantages, but it may be handicapped in this competition by recent problems with Canada’s grounded search-and-rescue fleet. Indeed, the EH101’s problems and contrasting selection of their H-92 Superhawk as Canada’s new maritime helicopter may have played a role in Sikorsky’s decision to go with the HH-92 rather than other possibilities like a Pave Low variant of the CH-53X/ CH-53K.