State Dept’s New Helo Fleet: Up to 110 S-61 Sikorskys for Worldwide Operation

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First four helos to go to US Embassy Kabul

Sikorsky Aerospace Services announced on February 21 at Heli-Expo that the U.S. State Department has entered into an IDIQ (indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity) agreement to purchase up to 110 modernized S-61™ aircraft for passenger and cargo transport missions in support of its worldwide operations. Delivery of the first four modernized S-61™ aircraft will support missions for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. Sikorsky Aerospace Services (SAS) is the aftermarket division of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (UTX).

The S-61 helicopters are being delivered as part of the Sikorsky S-61T™ Program – a comprehensive modernization program to upgrade existing S-61/H-3 aircraft to increase performance in high/hot operating conditions. The S-61 helicopter is known as the workhorse of the industry and, for more than 50 years, has reliably and safely performed missions in U.S. and foreign allied militaries. The five-year purchase agreement for the S-61T helicopters will add to the U.S. State Department’s worldwide fleet.
“With its rugged endurance, spaciousness and lift capabilities, the Sikorsky S-61 helicopter continues to be one of the most dependable aircraft in the aerospace industry. Its outstanding and durable performance history has given impetus to the S-61T Modernization Program, which builds upon that proud legacy,” said David Adler, president of Sikorsky Aerospace Services.
Sikorsky and Pennsylvania-based Carson Helicopters Inc. have launched an exclusive joint upgrade program. The S-61T Modernization Program incorporates key upgrades that include composite main rotor blades, a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and modular wiring harness – all of which dramatically improve aircraft supportability. The S-61T helicopter also has been equipped with 1,200 pounds of added lift capability and enhanced speed capacity. Additional features have been incorporated to reduce pilot fatigue and reduced maintenance requirements for increased safety.
Providing an alternative to the Pentagon’s current purchase and use of Russian helicopters, Sikorsky’s American-made modernized S-61 aircraft is mission-ready now for deployment to Afghanistan and the surrounding regions.
Sikorsky Aerospace Services provides comprehensive support for rotary and fixed wing aircraft around the world. It offers its military and commercial customers a full portfolio of support services. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
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Of course, if the State Department will soon have its own helicopter fleet, it will also need pilots and helo mechanics for this, right?  Other aviation personnel were recruited in the last couple of years through PSC contracts mostly for INL operations in the Western Hemisphere.  We should expect more aviations jobs advertised here before too long. 

In May 2008, in support of Diplomatic Security’s protection responsibilities throughout Iraq, the High Threat Protection Division (HTP), Office of Overseas Protective Operations (DS/IP/OPO) of the State Department awarded a Task Order under one of its Worldwide Personal Protective Services (WPPS II) contracts for $17,245,199.68 to Gold Coast Helicopters of  Glendale, Arizona.

But now, State will actually own them helos!