Washington – In an expected move, the Pentagon on Thursday awarded Sikorsky Aircraft a contract to build the new Air Force search and rescue helicopters.
The amount of the contract is $1.3 billion. But Congress has yet to fully appropriate the money for the program. A defense bill approved by the House last week appropriated only $100 million for the program, keeping it alive.
The Air Force debated whether it could afford to replace its aging fleet of rescue helicopters, but said in March it would award a contract to Sikorsky.
If fully funded, the Air Force contract could eventually be worth up to $8 billion to Sikorsky, which would build up to 112 combat rescue helicopters in Connecticut and at its facility in Florida.
“The combat rescue helicopters are critical life-saving assets that the Air Force has needed for years to replace its current fleet of worn down aircraft,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District.
In a joint statement, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Murphy said they worked with DeLauro last year to keep the helicopter from “the chopping block.”
“Rescuing downed warfighters is a core, non-debatable mission, and we applaud the Air Force for moving forward with this important investment,” the senators said.