Vought Aircraft said it has delivered the first cabin for the Army's new generation UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter to Sikorsky Aircraft. The M-model, featuring souped up cockpit avionics, new engines and rotor blade design will be the Army's workhorse troop transport, utility and medical evacuation helicopter for the next 20 or 30 years.
The Army expects to buy some 1,200 of the M-model Blackhawk as it phases out its older A and L models. Sikorsky began Blackhawk production in 1978 with more than 3,000 of the aircraft in use worldwide.
Vought won a contract from Sikorsky and began production of Blackhawk cabins at its Dallas plant in 2005. To date the company has built 55 cabins, 39 Army L-models and 16 Navy S-models. More than 300 people work on the Blackhawk program at the west Dallas plant.
Vought would like to have the Blackhawk cabin work on a long term basis, but Sikorsky will re-bid the program later this year before going to a multi-year production contracts. Chief Executive Elmer Doty, seeking to improve Vought's financial performance, has been trying to negotiate more attractive contracts with its customers.
-- Bob Cox