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Sikorsky Opens Testing Facility For Combat Rescue Helicopter In Stratford

Sikorsky's Combat Rescue Helicopter program is a U.S. Air Force project aiming to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks.
Sikorsky's Combat Rescue Helicopter program is a U.S. Air Force project aiming to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks. Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

STRATFORD, Conn. — Sikorsky Aircraft has opened a new facility at its Stratford headquarters where it will begin testing the key systems for the Combat Rescue Helicopter, a new aircraft it is building for the U.S. Air Force.

Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin, has inaugurated its new Systems Integration Lab, which encompasses 2,500 square feet within the company’s main manufacturing facility in Stratford. 

“This facility provides a simulated flight environment, allowing us to test key subsystems individually and then fully integrated. This will identify any issues before advancing to test flight, and will help reduce the number of required flight test hours, resulting in time and cost savings for the customer,” said Tim Healy, Sikorsky CRH program director.

The SIL complex includes four laboratories for testing avionics, electrical power, electronic flight controls and integrated vehicle diagnostics. Each subsystem will be evaluated independently before progressing to a fully integrated aircraft-representative test configuration.

“This is an important step forward for the CRH program,” said Melanie Marshall, USAF Deputy Program Manager. “The CRH team is working hard to provide our warfighters the capability they require to continue to conduct the critical personnel recovery mission far into the future.”

The integrated experience will closely resemble the actual aircraft and allow the pilot to fly simulated missions to evaluate qualitative performance, such as pilot workload, and have the actual “look and feel” of the aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force is looking to order 112 helicopters to replace its aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services. 

Earlier this year, the Sikorsky and USAF teams successfully executed the Training Systems Preliminary design review three months ahead of schedule on the CRH.

This review confirmed that the CRH program was ready to proceed with detailed design activities for the HH-60W training system, a major step in developing maintenance and aircrew training devices, courseware products and the training for the initial CRH maintenance and aircrew cadre.

Sikorsky and the Air Force hosted a four-day meeting in August to provide stakeholders and key collaborators from government and industry an in-depth review that demonstrated that overall design met the training system requirements. 

“Achieving this milestone ahead of schedule was a strong indication the program is well prepared for detailed design and subsequent production,” said Healy. “I’m confident we have a solid plan to meet the USAF accelerated schedule to bring the CRH to the warfighter six months faster. That is our intent, and we are in a good position to do that.”

The $1.2 billion Engineering Manufacturing & Development contract includes development and integration of the next generation combat rescue helicopter and mission systems, including delivery of four HH-60W helicopters, as well as six aircrew and maintenance training devices and instructional courseware. 

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