FANRBOROUGH: Sikorsky sales strategy succeeds in Saudi Arabia

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Sikorsky has made major breakthroughs in the Saudi Arabian market, with the kingdom signing up for a dozen civil helicopters and placing a launch order for a new military type.

UTC-owned Sikorsky is to supply 12 S-76D helicopters to the Saudi ministry of interior, which has also taken options for eight additional units as part of the type's biggest order to date. Delivery of the first of the 12 helicopters, to be deployed in security missions, is scheduled for early 2012.

The kingdom is also the launch customer for the latest helicopter in the Black Hawk line: the S-70i "international" variant. It has ordered three units, the first of which will be delivered in early 2011.

Production of the S-70i is being carried out by Sikorsky's Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec, making the helicopter the first Black Hawk to be assembled in Europe.

The first example of the S-70i was moved to Sikorsky's flight-test centre in Florida in early May, and its first flight took place on 1 July. Sikorsky has forecast production of at least 20 S-70i helicopters a year from 2012.

The S-76D civil helicopter, the latest model in the S-76 family, the S-76D can carry heavier loads and fly further than both the S-76C+ and S-76C++. It incorporates all-composite main rotor blades, Thales avionics and autopilot systems, and Pratt & Whitney 210S engines. Additionally, there is an option to fit a rotor ice protection system.