Sikorsky -- previously owned by United Technologies Corp. before Lockheed acquired the helicopter company in 2015 -- will offer a semi-modified HH-60U as the new Huey, the company said in a release.
"Sikorsky's HH-60U Black Hawk offers a proven, capable helicopter that is already in the Air Force's inventory to meet the critical needs of the UH-1N Huey Replacement Program," Samir Mehta, president of Sikorsky Defense Systems & Services, said in the release. "It is a low-risk solution for the Air Force that will enable the service to support two vital national defense missions while realizing the long-term cost savings of the Black Hawk platform."
The Air Force already has three HH-60U Black Hawks in its inventory, which pilots and special mission aviators began flying in 2011.
The Air Force is planning a second request for proposal draft for the UH-1N replacement program after feedback from possible bidders that they couldn't meet the original threshold requirements, an Air Force official told Military.com last month.
The original RFP draft was issued in December; the second is anticipated by April, according to a release from the service. The final RFP release -- originally expected in February -- has been pushed back to this summer.
The service still plans to award the contract in fiscal 2018, with the first operational helicopter delivery in the fiscal 2020-2021 timeframe. It hopes to buy 84 UH-1N replacement aircraft to protect its nuclear missile bases.
Additionally, "The UH-1N fleet supports five commands and numerous missions, including [Intercontinental Ballistic Missile] security support and [National Capital Region] continuity of government/operations, operational support airlift, aircrew training/support, and test support," Air Force spokesman Capt. Michael Hertzog said Feb. 17.
Sikorsky's potential bid could offer pilots already acquainted with the HH-60G Pave Hawk a smoother transition.
The company will offer an HH-60U that shares "85 percent commonality with the service's incoming fleet of HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters, and it will share the existing infrastructure that supports the Air Force's retiring fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks," it said.
Sikorsky-Lockheed attests its HH-60U's cabin can hold "nine fully outfitted security forces specialists, along with critical security response equipment and two special mission aviators." To remove senior leaders in a dire situation, its "continuity of operations mission requires transport for eight passengers," the release said.
The original RFP draft specified the new Huey should be able to carry nine combat-loaded troops, as well as weapons, with the ability to hit cruise speeds of at least 135 knots, Defense News reported at the time.
It was also required to be able to fly at least three hours without refueling.