The US State Department has signed an open ended contract for as many as 110 Sikorsky S-61T Triton helicopters from Sikorsky over the next five years for US diplomat transportation and cargo services.
The first four reworked “green” twin-engine helicopters will be completed in April, with delivery set for year’s end, says Sikorsky Aerospace Services president David Adler. The first batch of aircraft will support missions for the US Embassy in Afghanistan.
Sikorsky is partnering with Carson Helicopters for the S-61T, the company that holds the supplemental type certificates for the helicopter’s new composite rotor blades, Sagem glass cockpit and other performance enhancing upgrades. The State Department is the launch customer for the Triton, which Sikorsky unveiled at last year’s Heli Expo convention.
Adler says production work take place at Carson, at least initially, where the $8 million aircraft receive 9,000h inspections and mission modifications as specified by the State Department. Green aircraft are also being completed at Carson. Adler says the initial four aircraft are S-61N models supplied by Carson, but additional aircraft are available from the Navy H-3 helicopters in dry storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and other locations. The S-61 line has been in operation for more than 50 years.
The video below, created by Sikorsky, shows some attributes of the S-61T.
Considering the interest from foreign militaries and a potential to use the aircraft by US forces in Iraq in Afghanistan, missions that are currently being provided by US-purchased Mi-17s, Adler envisions a steady state production rate of up to 12 helicopters per year.