Sikorsky unveiled the H-92 Superhawk military helicopter at yesterday's show and immediately turned the heat up on the competition by announcing a simultaneous engine upgrade that will give the aircraft 25% more power than its civil counterpart, the S-92.
The H-92 will act as the launch platform for the new General Electric CT7-8C, which the two companies say will give the Superhawk an additional payload of 4,000lb (1,816kg).
Sikorsky believes the extra lift, coupled with the introduction of fly-by-wire controls and a comprehensive survivability package will give the aircraft competitive advantage in a series of crucial helicopter contests due to be decided in the next 12 months.
The new engine will have 80% commonality with the -8A version that powers the S-92, allowing development costs to be capped, but performance to be maximised.
Ed Birtwell, general manager for turboshaft engines at GE, said the US Army had also shown interest in the powerplant, but confirmed that Sikorsky would be the launch customer.
Sikorsky vice-president for business development Jeff Pino underlined the company's determination not to relinquish its current position as manufacturer of the US presidential fleet, a position being seriously challenged by the US101 team of Lockheed Martin, AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter in the upcoming US Marine Corps VXX competition.
Pino also reiterated the H-92 team's commitment to being selected for the Canadian Maritime Helicopter Programme (MHP), where a 28-aircraft order is at stake and the huge US Air Force combat search and rescue competition, which could involve up to 135 machines.
He took a swipe at the US101 with comparisons between the two aircraft's lift, range and speed, but concentrated also on the vast effort that has gone into making the S/H-92 one of the safest helicopters in the sky.
The Superhawk features self-sealing fuel tanks, ballistic tolerance for all parts of the aircraft, advanced infrared suppression and chaff/flare systems to combat missile attack.
Pino says Sikorsky will monitor customer requirements on the S-92 before deciding whether to offer the CT7-8C engine on the civil variant of the helicopter.
Source: Flight Daily News