La chute du Faucon noir : Washington soupçonne Islamabad de trahison

15:32 16/08/2011
Par Konstantin Bogdanov, RIA Novosti

L’épave de l’hélicoptère de reconnaissance américain qui s’est écrasé en mai au Pakistan pourrait se retrouver entre les mains des Chinois, bien que les représentants militaires pakistanais réfutent catégoriquement une telle possibilité, en déclarant que les débris du MH-60 Black Hawk endommagé ont été remis aux Américains. Néanmoins, les experts sont enclins à croire les déclarations des médias sur la « coopération » sino-pakistanaise, et estiment qu’ainsi Islamabad insinue que les Etats-Unis ne sont pas le centre de l’Univers.

Deux principaux journaux occidentaux ont annoncé en même temps que les services de renseignement pakistanais auraient laissé un groupe d’ingénieurs chinois examiner et photographier l’épave de l’hélicoptère MH-60 Black Hawk des forces spéciales, qui s’est crashé en mai pendant l’opération d’élimination du chef d’Al-Qaïda Oussama Ben Laden à Abbottabad. Les sources du Financial Times et du New York Times du gouvernement américain, proches du renseignement américain, affirment qu’il est certain que les Chinois ont été autorisés à examiner non seulement les éléments de la partie arrière de l’épave, mais également de prélever des échantillons du revêtement radio-absorbant secret.

Les forces spéciales américaines ont perdu l’appareil en mai pendant l’opération destinée à éliminer le chef d’Al-Qaïda Oussama Ben Laden à Abbottabad. L’appareil appartenait au 190e escadron d’hélicoptères d’opérations spéciales et un nombre extrêmement limité de versions modifiées d’appareils de ce type étaient capables d’accomplir des missions spéciales.

Les hélicoptères MH-60 Black Hawk, en dotation des Night Stalkers (rôdeurs de nuit, c’est ainsi qu’on appelle le 160e escadron), utilisent les technologies de furtivité radar Stealth, sont dotés d’équipements permettant de réduire le bruit des moteurs et d’une panoplie d’appareils de reconnaissance pour les missions de nuit.

Selon la version officielle, pendant le débarquement, des commandos de marine, l’hélicoptère est entré dans un courant d’air chaud ascendant, l’équipage a mal évalué l’altitude de sécurité et a accroché un des murs avec le rotor principal. L’appareil a percuté le sol en endommageant le rotor mais l’équipage n’a pas été blessé et a participé à l’opération. Avant de quitter les lieux, les commandos de marine ont fait exploser l’hélicoptère endommagé. Néanmoins, plusieurs éléments de sa structure, dont un a pu être examiné par les Chinois, n’ont pas été détruits.

Les signaux et les deux jambes

« Il s’agit d’un signal sérieux », estime Evgueni Satanovsky, président de l’Institut du Proche-Orient, et de souligner que si, en dépit des objections très fermes des Américains, Islamabad a réellement autorisé les Chinois à accéder à l’épave de l’hélicoptère, le Pakistan l’a certainement fait en misant sur le partenariat stratégique avec la Chine dans le contexte de la menace émanant de l’Inde.

« En faisant la somme des investissements de la Chine dans la construction du port de Gwadar et l’élargissement de la route du Karakorum, ainsi que dans d’autres projets d’infrastructure au Pakistan, y compris les pipelines et les usines métallurgiques, il devient évident que Pékin est le principal allié d’Islamabad dans les secteurs économiques et militaires », a expliqué à RIA Novosti Evgueni Satanovsky.

La réaction officielle d’Islamabad à l’opération visant à éliminer Oussama Ben Laden a été particulièrement négative, et les insinuations selon lesquelles Ben Laden était caché par les militaires pakistanais ont provoqué une sévère réprimande du premier ministre Gilani. Mais le Pakistan ne souhaite pas détériorer ses relations avec les Américains.

« La Chine demeure pour Islamabad l’un des plus proches alliés, mais le Pakistan balancera entre Pékin et Washington pour ne froisser personne », fait remarquer Sergueï Kamenev, responsable du département Pakistan de l’Institut d’études orientales de l’Académie des sciences de Russie. Selon l’expert, certains progrès dans ce schéma des relations sont possibles, cependant on n’assiste actuellement à aucun changement important d’équilibre des forces et rien n’indique que les Etats-Unis ou la Chine ont considérablement changé leur attitude envers le Pakistan.

Evgueni Satanovsky voit dans les relations américano-pakistanaises actuelles plus d’éléments négatifs, mais il fait remarquer que cela ne signifie pas que le gouvernement pakistanais est prêt à rompre ses relations avec Washington pour se réorienter sur Pékin.

« Dans les conditions du refroidissement avec les Etats-Unis, les Pakistanais utiliseront la Chine en tant que fenêtre sur le monde, a déclaré M. Satanovsky à RIA Novosti. Islamabad n’a pas l’intention de rompre ses relations avec les Etats-Unis, cependant il montre qu’il possède une alternative. Comme nous le savons, il est toujours préférable de prendre appui sur deux jambes que sur une seule ».

Les conflits d’intérêts des militaires

La coopération militaro-technique est l’un des éléments clés dans l’interaction entre Islamabad et Pékin. Ainsi, par exemple, le port de Gwadar, mentionné ci-dessus, sera plutôt à double usage et deviendra de facto une base navale chinoise. Actuellement, le Pakistan lance la production sous licence du chasseur léger JF-17 Thunder, qui était élaboré dans le cadre d’un programme sino-pakistanais conjoint. De plus, la Chine et le Pakistan ont signé des contrats portant sur les avions de détection radar longue portée, et les fournitures gratuites de nouveaux chasseurs chinois J-10 sont prévues. Tout cela permet d’affirmer que la proportion de matériel chinois dans l’armée de l’air pakistanaise ne fera que croître.

Par ailleurs, le Pakistan est également un important acheteur d’armements américains et bénéficie de l’aide militaire américaine. Le lien étroit entre les sphères militaires et de renseignement d’Islamabad et leurs collègues de Washington dure depuis longtemps, et les épisodes tels que la lutte contre la présence soviétique en Afghanistan, l’extrémisme islamique et le terrorisme faisaient naître des coalitions originales.

« Il existe divers groupes parmi les militaires pakistanais et la direction du renseignement inter-services, affirme Sergueï Kamenev. Il n’y a pas d’accord unanime ». Tout un groupe de militaires pakistanais est pro-américain, et il était au courant des plans d’élimination de Ben Laden et a même contribué à leur mise en œuvre, malgré le rejet catégorique de l’implication dans cette affaire des autorités pakistanaises. D’autres collaborateurs du département militaire et du renseignement sont prochinois. Ils accordent beaucoup d’importance aux fournitures d’armes chinoises et à la localisation des technologies de défense chinoises au Pakistan.

Sweden Becomes 1st European Nation to Procure UH-60M Helicopters

STRATFORD, Conn. — Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. today announced that the U.S. Government has agreed to sell 15 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (or FMV, which is the Swedish acronym) for operation by the Swedish Armed forces.

The transaction will take place under the U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Sales program, and represents the introduction of the latest and most technologically advanced Black Hawk model into Europe. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

The Swedish Armed Forces will use the aircraft for medical evacuation, utility, and search and rescue missions. Sikorsky is slated to deliver six of the helicopters in 2011 and the remaining nine in 2012 under an accelerated production schedule.

Sweden is a member of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

« We’re honored to support the Swedish Armed Forces, and we congratulate them for being the first European Union nation to choose this highly evolved UH-60M aircraft, which is part of a lineage of aircraft that have proven themselves countless times under the most extreme conditions all over the world, » said Mick Maurer, President of Sikorsky Military Systems.

The UH-60M helicopter is the latest version in the long and highly successful BLACK HAWK family. It is flown by the U.S. Army and provides additional payload and range, advanced digital avionics, improved handling qualities and situational awareness, active vibration control, and improved survivability compared with the predecessor UH-60L model.

The Black Hawk helicopter is well known for its ruggedness, survivability and mission flexibility, having logged more than 9 million flight hours since the first model was introduced in 1978. Worldwide, approximately 3,000 are in operation today. Sweden will become the 26th nation to operate Black Hawk helicopters and only the second in Europe, where Austria operates UH-60L models. U.S. forces have flown various Black Hawk models for 1.2 million flight hours to date in Afghanistan and Iraq without a single material failure.

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.

Le point sur le projet des hélicoptères maritimes

NR – 11.044 – le 17 mai 2011

Shearwater (Nouvelle-Écosse) – La 12e Escadre Shearwater, en Nouvelle-Écosse, a reçu le premier hélicoptère maritime provisoire CH148 Cyclone la semaine dernière. Cet hélicoptère servira à l’entraînement des équipages et des techniciens des Forces canadiennes dans le cadre du Projet des hélicoptères maritimes.

« L’arrivée de cet hélicoptère à Shearwater démontre que le Projet progresse et nous rapproche de la livraison d’un hélicoptère maritime moderne et polyvalent qui permettra aux Forces canadiennes d’assurer la défense du Canada et des intérêts canadiens pendant de nombreuses années », explique l’honorable Peter MacKay, ministre de la Défense nationale.

Le 13 mai 2011, la firme Sikorsky Operations International Inc. a transporté l’hélicoptère à Shearwater en vertu du contrat conclu dans le cadre du Projet des hélicoptères maritimes, contrat qui prévoit la formation des membres du cadre initial des instructeurs des Forces canadiennes. L’hélicoptère sera utilisé au sol pour l’instruction des techniciens.

Il ne s’agit pas d’une livraison officielle, car Sikorsky n’a pas encore répondu à toutes les exigences contractuelles relatives à la livraison des hélicoptères. L’hélicoptère demeurera donc en la possession et sous la responsabilité de Sikorsky jusqu’à ce que toutes les exigences soient remplies.

L’hélicoptère sera livré officiellement aux Forces canadiennes et entrera en leur possession une fois le certificat de navigabilité militaire canadien octroyé et l’entraînement en vol initial de l’équipage réussi.

Sikorsky réalise des progrès constants, et le premier hélicoptère maritime provisoire devrait être livré plus tard cet été. Dans sa configuration finale, le nouveau Cyclone sera à la fine pointe de la technologie et l’un des hélicoptères maritimes les plus efficaces au monde.

Source: Ministère canadien de la Défense nationale

Un Black Hawk furtif pour la capture de Ben Laden

6 mai 2011

Un hélicoptère Black Hawk écrasé le 2 mai dernier, lors de la mission pour la capture de Ben Laden à Abbottabad au Pakistan, soulève les interrogations les plus folles de la part de la blogosphère et de la presse mondiale.

L’appareil s’est écrasé sur le mur d’enceinte de la résidence de Ben Laden. Le commando a bien essayé de le détruire en repartant mais a oublié la queue de l’hélicoptère de l’autre coté du mur d’enceinte.

Rotor de queue retrouvé au Pakistan (Black Hawk Stealth Project)

Si d’aucun pense en France avoir des doutes sur la mort de Ben Laden, on peut dire que les américains y ont mis les moyens. Ces hélicoptères s’avèrent extrêmement silencieux, plusieurs témoignages indiquent que personne n’a vu ou surtout entendu arriver les hélicoptères américains près de la résidence.

Quel est cet hélicoptère inconnu  dans l’inventaire américain ? Il serait plutôt d’un genre furtif. Les américains auraient-ils utilisé un RAH-66 Comanche, programme abandonné depuis 2004? Non, car l’hélicoptère devait transporter environ 25 commandos Navy Seals même avec une élingue.

RAH-66 Comanche

Alors qu’est-ce? Les diverses recherches des industriels Lockeed Martin, Boeing et Sikorsky ont eu des répercussions en ce qui concerne la conception d’hélicoptères furtifs. Depuis les années 80, ces recherches ont apporté quelques solutions en matière de discrétion radar et pas seulement sur les peintures absorbantes.

Ce qui pose la question du genre de l’appareil et du nombre de ceux-ci lors de cette opération (pour évacuer un commando avec un appareil en moins). L’analyse des photos amène à penser qu’il s’agit d’un hélicoptère Black Hawk modifié afin d’atténuer au maximum le bruit du rotor principal et de queue ainsi que la signature radar et infrarouge. A l’heure actuelle, des spéculations tournent autour des pales qui seraient éventuellement rétractables au niveau du rotor principal. Seules deux pales ont été retrouvées sur place mais Boeing a travaillé avec la DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) du département de la Défense des États-Unis pour le développement de pales rétractables. La technique de pâles élargies aux extrémités et incurvées (pour le bruit) pourrait être une autre solution.

Illustration d'un UH-60 Black Hawk

Illustration du Black Hawk Stealth Project

Sur diverses photos et vidéo ici et là sur internet,on peut voir les pales et autres restes de l’appareil transportés sur des véhicules pick-up, camions, tracteurs par les services de renseignements pakistanais et les militaires.  Les Etats-Unis récupèreront certainement quelques morceaux de l’appareil mais la Russie et surtout la Chine auront eu leur part. Le Pentagone se refuse pour l’heure à faire le moindre commentaire sur cet appareil.

David Campese

Pentagon Contract Announcement: Sikorsky Aircraft

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded on April 28 an $84,599,548 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the conversion of seven aircraft to the Colombian Ministry of Defense to include publications and aircraft warranty.

Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2014. One bid was solicited with one bid received.

The U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command, Army Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (DAAH23-02-C-0006).

US arms industry makes strong comeback to Turkish market

Monday, April 25, 2011
ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s utility helicopter program has been designed for maximum local industry contribution. As a result Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, the programs’ prime contractor, and other Turkish companies will manufacture 50 percent of the platform in financial terms. This means, half of the $3.5 billion priced tag will remain in Turkey.

For long a time the United States defense giants have failed to win a lucrative Turkish contract in the face of competition from European and non-European rivals, but the spell was broken last week when Sikorsky Aircraft, a top US helicopter maker, grabbed the job to lead the production of Turkey’s next utility helicopter for the military.

Under the move by Turkey’s top decision-making body on defense procurement last Thursday, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a United Technologies company, defeated Italy’s AgustaWestland in a $3.5 billion competition to lead the joint manufacture of 109 T-70 platforms, a Turkish version of the company’s S-70 Black Hawk International.

AgustaWestland is a subsidiary owned by the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, the closest defense partner for Turkey in recent years. It was competing with the TUHP-149, a proposed Turkish version for its newly developed AW-149.

Turkey has two methods of defense procurement from foreign sources. The first is single-source purchases through government-to-government agreements, and the second is commercial tenders that are international competitions where more than one foreign company is competing.

In the first method, the U.S. is still the largest supplier of Turkey’s weapons systems. For example the U.S.’s Lockheed Martin will provide Turkey with 30 modern F-16 Block 50 fighter aircraft worth nearly $1.8 billion soon. Lockheed Martin is also modernizing most of Turkey’s older F-16 jets.

In addition Turkey is taking part in the Lockheed Matin-led, multinational program for new-generation and stealth F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II fighter aircraft, and plans to buy around 100 aircrafts.

Commercial tenders

But in commercial tenders, U.S. companies have been failing against other foreign firms in the past 10 years. For example, in 2007 AgustaWestland won a multibillion-dollar Turkish tender to provide the Turkish Army with 51 T129 attack helicopters. Later the company grabbed another contract to make Turkey another nine T129s.

Also, U.S. companies, over the past 10 years, lost bids against Israeli firms to modernize the M-60 main battle tanks and to buy unmanned aerial vehicles. In addition, a South Korean company, Korean Aerospace Industries, won a Turkish tender for basic trainer aircraft, and an Italian company, Telespazio, topped U.S. rivals and won a Turkish contract to build a military satellite.

Turkey in recent years managed to locally design, develop and produce most of what it needed for its Land Forces and Navy by manufacturing armored vehicles and smaller vessels, and its new defense industry strategy calls for greater self-sufficiency in other fields, including some fixed-wing and rotating-wing aircraft.

Sikorsky is no stranger to the Turkish military. In the 1990s it sold more than 100 S-70 Black Hawk International helicopters in two batches. In 2006, it finalized a deal to sell 17 S-70B Seahawk naval warfare helicopters to the Turkish Navy. Recently it started deliveries, and in the face of a delay in deliveries, it accepted a Turkish request to provide an 18th S-70B free of charge.

Sikorsky Aircraft, based in Stratford, Connecticut, was founded in 1925 by aircraft engineer Igor Sikorsky, an American immigrant originally born in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

Disappointment

AgustaWestland said it was disappointed it had lost the latest utility helicopter competition to Sikorsky.

« Unfortunately Turkey’s decision was to opt for an old design of helicopter instead of leveraging on the fruitful collaboration and advantages achieved with the T129 program for attack helicopters, » said Ugo Rossini, vice president head of AgustaWestland for Europe. « With that decision Turkey’s aerospace industry has lost a unique opportunity to become a major player in the helicopter industry through the co-development of a new generation helicopter. »

But Turkish procurement officials said Sikorsky Aircraft’s financial and commercial cooperation package was better and more concrete, providing Turkey with benefits worth billions of dollars for the $3.5 billion utility helicopter program.

Now, whether the U.S. defense industry’s comeback to the Turkish market will remain in place will mostly be up to who wins a new multibillion-dollar Turkish contract for long-range missile and air defense systems.

For that program the U.S. Raytheon-Lockheed Martin is offering its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems, and is in competition with the Italian-French MBDA, Europe’s largest missile maker competing with Aster 30 SAMP/T, and Russian and Chinese rivals.

Most defense experts here suggest that the Chinese and Russian options are not compatible with NATO systems, so the actual competition will take place between the PAC-3 and SAMP/T systems.

In addition, the U.S. so far has not accepted a Turkish request made more than two years ago for the purchase of MQ-9 Reaper armed drones. « It will remain to be seen whether the positive climate between the U.S. and Turkey created by Turkey’s selection of Sikorsky Aircraft will extend to cover the sale of Reapers, » said one defense analyst.

Source : Hurriyetdailynews

Emirates invests heavily in arms industry

Published: March. 28, 2011

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, March 28 (UPI) — Raytheon is expected to establish local manufacturing plants when it upgrades the United Arab Emirates’ Patriot missile systems, boosting a burgeoning defense and aerospace industry that’s becoming the most advanced in the Arab world.

Abu Dhabi, the richest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, spearheads the nascent defense industry emerging in the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council — the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

Abu Dhabi signed defense contracts worth $1.8 billion in February as part of its drive to diversify its economy, which is primarily oil exports, principally from its own fields.

The growing confrontation between Iran and the United States and its Persian Gulf allies and the massive arms drive this has engendered in the regional states, primarily Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, has given impetus to Abu Dhabi’s drive to develop its own defense industry.

« Heightened threat perception around the Arab gulf states from Iran is the main driver for the increase in defense spending, although there’s also a threat from terrorism, » said Riad Kahwaji, chief executive of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.

These days, the emirate is lining up joint ventures with defense industry companies like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Co., all of the United States, and BAE Systems, the largest defense contractor in Europe.

The focus increasingly is on aerospace and aircraft technologies, with thousands of new jobs expected to be generated in this rapidly expanding sector.

The emirate even has ambitions of getting in on the space race. In 2009, Aabar Investments bought a 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline.

Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004 as part of British tycoon Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, plans to provide suborbital flights for paying passengers and eventually orbital space flights as well.

Aabar secured the rights to launch space flights from Abu Dhabi for tourists as well as scientific research and has announced plans to build a spaceport in the emirate.

Abu Dhabi is also building satellites. Its first, Yahsat 1A, a telecommunications craft, is expected to be launched soon atop an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guyana.

A second launch is expected this year by the Al-Yah Satellite Communications Co. a subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Co., a government-owned enterprise that’s at the forefront of the defense industry drive.

Mubadala subsidiary Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies has a partnership venture with Sikorsky Aerospace and Lockheed Martin, both of the United States, in the Advanced Military Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center.

Abu Dhabi Ship Building, arguably the most advanced defense contractor in the GCC, has built two 420-ton landing craft for the Bahrain navy at the company’s $30 million headquarters in the Mussafah industrial zone.

Along with Mubadala, established in 2002 as Abu Dhabi’s investment vehicle in sectors as diverse as aerospace, energy, infrastructure and services, ADSB is in the forefront of building an indigenous defense sector.

It was established in 1995 as a joint venture between Newport News Shipbuilding of Virginia — now owned by the Northrop Grumman Corp. — and the UAE Offset Group, now owned by the Abu Dhabi government.

Its main contract so far is a 2004 order worth $1 billion to build five of the six planned Baynunah-class corvettes for the emirates’ navy with ADSB’s strategic partner, Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie of Cherbourg, France.

The Baynunah-class vessels, with waterjet propulsion and designed for multiple missions, represent « the most modern and sophisticated warship ever produced in any of the GCC countries, » says ADSB Vice President William Stewart.

The United Arab Emirates has become a military heavyweight in the Persian Gulf region, particularly with the buildup of its air, naval and missile forces in recent years.

BAE Systems of the United Kingdom, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, the leading U.S. defense manufacturers, « have a strong foothold in the regional defense industry and expect to win big contracts, » The Middle East Economic Digest reported.

Among other deals, the Emirates is finalizing a $7 billion contract with Lockheed for the Theater High Altitude Air Defense missile system. Abu Dhabi is also discussing the construction of a missile maintenance facility with Mubadala.

Source: UPI

Sikorsky Recognizes Top Suppliers

March 23, 2011

STRATFORD, Connecticut – Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. recently held its 4th annual Supplier Summit in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with senior executives from the top 150 supplier companies. The current 13 Sikorsky Gold Suppliers were recognized at the event for their best-in-class performance. In addition, the event marked the launch of Sikorsky annual supplier recognition awards. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX).
As part of UTC, Sikorsky and its supply chain practice the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) system for quality and efficiency, with successive Bronze, Silver and Gold levels for increasing proficiency. The following UTC Supplier Gold companies were recognized by Sikorsky.

  • Admill Machine Company, of New Britain, Conn., is a small machined parts supplier that achieved UTC Supplier Gold in October 2009.
  • Aero Gear Inc., a precision machining gear supplier in Windsor, Conn., achieved UTC Supplier Gold status in December 2010.
  • Aero Vodochody, A.S., an aero-structure commercial supplier based in the Czech Republic, initially received UTC Supplier Gold status in December 2009 and has maintained that level for the past several years.
  • BJG Electronics, Inc., an electronics distributor in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., has been at UTC Supplier Gold since December 2010.
  • Belcan Corporation, an engineering services provider headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been at the UTC Supplier Gold level since December 2008.
  • CPI Aerostructures, a structural aircraft parts and assembly company from Edgewood, N.Y., achieved UTC Supplier Gold status in October 2010.
  • Exotic Metals from Kent, Wash., is a top sheet metal supplier that received the UTC Supplier Gold award in September 2007.
  • FLIR Systems, Inc. is an avionics company based in Wilsonville, Ore., that achieved UTC Supplier Gold in November 2009.
  • Labarge Inc. in Joplin, Mo., a top avionics/electrical supplier, achieved UTC Supplier Gold status in March 2010.
  • Labinal, Inc. out of Corinth, Texas, achieved UTC Supplier Gold in December 2010 and is currently a top supplier for electrical wiring assemblies.
  • SKF Sealing Solutions out of Elgin, Ill., achieved UTC Supplier Gold status in June 2009 as a top bearing supplier.
  • TEK Precision based in Deer Park, N.Y., was the first Sikorsky-sponsored UTC Supplier Gold firm, having earned that status in 2008.

Al Altieri, Vice President, Supply Management for Sikorsky, who presented the awards, said, “Over the past year, several suppliers have made extraordinary efforts in meeting the high standards for delivery and quality for Sikorsky. It was clear through internal surveys that these awardees were distinct in making the extra efforts in satisfying the needs of our customers. They play a critical role in our continued success. ”

The following companies were recognized as a Supplier of the Year in select categories.

  • Aero Gear Inc., the precision machining gear supplier, received the award in the “New Sikorsky Supplier Gold” category. Aero Gear achieved Gold status in December 2010.
  • Alken Industries, a machining company located in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., was recognized as exceptional in the “Small Woman Owned Business” category.
  • Aurora Flight Sciences with manufacturing operations in Bridgeport, W.Va., and Columbus, Miss., received the award in the “Airframe” category for the company’s high level of performance for Sikorsky.
  • BJG Electronics, Inc. the electronics distributor, was recognized as the top supplier in the “Avionics/Electronics” category.
  • Ladish Co., Inc., a forging supplier headquartered in Cudahy, Wis., received the “Heavy Metal” category award for its outstanding dependability to meet Sikorsky requirements. The Ladish Co., Inc. includes machining suppliers Aerex Manufacturing in Windsor, Conn., and Stowe Machine in Bloomfield, Conn.
  • TEK Precision, the assemblies and component supplier, received the “Machining” category award as an exceptional supplier to Sikorsky. TEK Precision has achieved and maintained the UTC Supplier Gold status for the past three years.
  • Telephonics Corporation in Farmingdale, N.Y., received the “Equipment” category award for its high level of support to Sikorsky with advanced sensor and communications systems.
  • TIGHITCO, Inc. based in Berlin, Conn., was presented with the “Fabrications” category award as a top supplier to Sikorsky. TIGHITCO also has operations and Atlanta, Ga., and Chihuahua, Mexico.

Sikorsky recognizes the effort these suppliers have provided by going above and beyond to help deliver high quality products in the timeframe needed. These partnerships demonstrate that through combined efforts, new standards can be achieved in meeting our customers’ needs.

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.

CH-53K Helicopter Assembly Line Opens at Sikorsky Florida Facility

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. officially opened a new facility at its Florida Assembly and Flight Operations (FAFO) campus, establishing experimental assembly line operations for the new CH-53K heavy lift helicopter. Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

Since 1959, United Technologies Corporation has been in operation in Palm Beach County with Pratt & Whitney military engine programs and Sikorsky development and certification programs that have included research aircraft such as the XH-59, fly-by-wire aircraft and the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter.

« The production of the next generation of heavy lift helicopter prototype is underway, » said Dennis Jarvi, vice president, Navy and Marine Corps Programs for Sikorsky. « As we commence assembly line operations at FAFO, we are witnessing the dawn of a new age in rotorcraft development and construction. The CH-53K helicopter is being digitally designed and manufactured. We have created ‘virtual tools’ that will improve the learning process and identify and solve issues before they become costly delays in manufacturing. The CH-53K helicopter stands to become a model of innovative technology and capability when it takes its role in the fleet. »

The CH-53K helicopter Florida Assembly and Flight Operations facility consists of approximately 60,000 square feet of space. The building, originally the home of Pratt & Whitney-Rocketdyne, has been completely updated to create a modern assembly area. Overhead power and air dropdowns, new aircraft work stands, and overhead cranes have been installed to support aircraft final assembly and rotor head/quality control assembly operations.

The state-of-the-art facility also provides wireless data connections to all operator plasma data screens. The new FAFO operation will introduce the use of digital operation sheets to aid in assembly and operate a four-position flight line to produce the new aircraft.

« The CH-53K helicopter team has combined the new advances in technology with the learning of more than 70 years of manufacturing into a robust process that is expected to gain significant efficiencies during the build of the aircraft, » said John Johnson, CH-53K helicopter program manager.

Five System Development and Demonstration (SDD) prototype aircraft will be built at the FAFO facility, with two additional airframe test articles produced at Sikorsky’s main manufacturing plant in Stratford, Conn. Once assembled, the aircraft will be delivered to the Sikorsky Development Flight Center (DFC) in West Palm Beach, Fla., to undergo flight testing.

Mick Maurer, president of Sikorsky Military Systems, said: « The Development Flight Center has been the starting point of many storied aircraft programs for Sikorsky. From building the S-76 series aircraft to testing the complex CH148 helicopter and flying the revolutionary X2 Technology demonstrator, the DFC has a history that will soon have a new success story to add to its resume: the impressive, powerful CH-53K helicopter. »

Sikorsky Aircraft received a $3 billion System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract on April 5, 2006 to develop a replacement for the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E heavy lift helicopter. The new aircraft program is planned to include production of more than 200 aircraft. Currently, the CH-53K helicopter is in the SDD phase with all of the major subcontracts awarded and valued at over $1.1B.

The CH-53K helicopter will maintain virtually the same footprint as its predecessor, the three-engine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, but will nearly triple the payload to 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under « high hot » ambient conditions. The CH-53E helicopter is currently the largest, most powerful marinized helicopter in the world. It is deployed from Marine Corps amphibious assault ships to transport personnel and equipment and to carry external (sling) cargo loads.

The CH-53K helicopter’s maximum gross weight (MGW) with internal loads is 74,000 pounds compared to 69,750 pounds for the CH-53E aircraft. The CH-53K’s MGW with external loads is 88,000 pounds as compared to 73,500 for the CH-53E helicopter.

Features of the CH-53K helicopter include: a modern glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth generation rotor blades with anhedral tips; a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head; upgraded engines; a locking cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and improved reliability, maintainability and supportability. The program is expected to achieve the Initial Operational Capability milestone in FY18.

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.

Pentagon Contract Announcement : Sikorsky

Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Conn., was awarded a $129,424,983 firm-fixed-price contract March 4, 2011.

The award will provide for the procurement of UH-60M Helicopters, HH-60M Helicopters, MH-60S Helicopters and MH-60R Helicopters.  Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2012.  One bid was solicited with one bid received.

The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).