STRATFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Sikorsky Aircraft is celebrating the delivery of its 5,000th Blackhawk helicopter on Friday. This milestone falls on the year of Sikorsky’s 100th anniversary.
Since the program started in the 1970s, there have been all kinds of hawks: Pavehawks, Seahawks, Firehawks, and more. They come from Connecticut but fly all over the world.
Nearly everyone knows the iconic helicopter, as it is a workhorse in the U.S. military. But there are variants made for different branches, as well as for border patrol and firefighting, so this helicopter is the 5,000th “Hawk” variant. It will be on display in the hangar as Lamont and other officials (such as senior military officers) celebrate at the Stratford plant.
“I’m often sitting down with foreign partners who are begging for a way to get their hands on just a few more of these helicopters because they know their soldiers are going to be safer if they have access to this miracle of a machine,” said Senator Chris Murphy.
The U.S. Military ordered 120 more Hawks just last year in a contract that will last for years.
This accomplishment is not without its drawbacks, however. The military is planning to phase out the Blackhawk.
Last month, the U.S. Army picked a different company to develop the Blackhawk’s replacement. That $1.3 billion contract went to a Texas-based company called Bell.
There are still years left on the existing Blackhawk contract, so the company stated that there is no immediate impact on jobs in Connecticut. But, tens of millions of dollars in state tax credits were contingent on Sikorsky getting the contract.
So, that was a blow to the company.
Sikorsky filed a formal protest challenging the Army’s decision at the end of last month.
“Even though this aircraft has been around longer than most of the soldiers it now supports, don’t expect this workhorse to be put out to pasture anytime soon,” said Col. Calvin Lane, U.S. Army Utility Helicopters Project.