Structural modernization of a first S-61T airframe has been completed by Sikorsky at its Troy, AL facility. The structure will now undergo completion at Carson Helicopters for eventual delivery to the U.S. State Department for diplomatic service in Afghanistan.
The State Department signed an agreement in 2010 to purchase up to 110 modernized S-61 aircraft that Sikorsky is refurbishing under its S-61T Program, managed by its aftermarket business Sikorsky Aerospace Services. The program includes the upgrade and installation of composite main rotor blades, state-of-the-art glass cockpit, modular wiring harness, and modern survivability and force protection enhancements – all of which dramatically improve aircraft capability and supportability. These enhancements result in an aircraft with improved safety, and 15 percent greater performance with a lower operating cost. The number of aircraft the State Department purchases will depend upon need and availability of government funding.
“With its rugged endurance, spaciousness and lift capabilities, the Sikorsky S-61 helicopter has proven to be a dependable, multi-mission aircraft and provides a capable solution for our customers looking for a utility aircraft with a legacy of strength and reliability. Our S-61 helicopter is the best value proposition in the industry,” said John Johnson, S-61 Program Director, Sikorsky Aerospace Services.
Sikorsky Aerospace Services launched the program in 2010 with Carson Helicopters, and so far has delivered 14 modernized S-61 aircraft to the State Department.
“Our workforce here in Troy is highly skilled and understands the importance of the work we do in support of our nation and military allies,” said facility General Manager Jason Lambert. “Completion of this first modernized airframe represents a big milestone for us. Our team is extremely proud of our ability to utilize world class lean manufacturing techniques to create capacity for this important program.”
The S-61 helicopter has long been acclaimed as an industry workhorse. For more than 50 years, the aircraft have reliably and safely performed missions for U.S. and foreign allied militaries. The latest airframe first entered service as an SH-3D aircraft with the U.S. Navy in November 1966 and primarily performed antisubmarine warfare.