Two Sikorsky CH-60S naval utility helicopters are now undergoing flight testing for the US Navy as the development programme moves into top gear.

Sikorsky says a third aircraft will join the programme at the Navy's Patuxent River testbed next month when it completes structural airworthiness studies at the manufacturer's Stratford, Connecticut plant. The CH-60S, which is a UH-60 Black Hawk baseline, equipped with SH-60 Seahawk engines, rotor system and dynamics is due to be introduced at the Naval Air Station in North Island, California, with a full-rate production decision expected in 2001.

The programme is an important one for Sikorsky, as it resurrects naval variant H-60 deliveries following activation of the final batch of Seahawks in 1996.

There is a requirement for more than 200 CH-60S aircraft to replace the Navy's fleet of CH-46Ds as part of the force¹s Helicopter Master Plan. The Lot I contract awarded in September 1999, calls for delivery of five aircraft in 2000 and an option aircraft in 2001.

Source: Flight Daily News