During an exclusive interview heading into the Farnborough International Airshow, Sikorsky President Mick Maurer told Rotor & Wing that speed, autonomy and intelligence are the factors that Sikorsky is driving forward to meet its military and civilian customer needs.
Recent wins including the U.S. Air Force’s Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) program (112 aircraft), the VXX Presidential helicopter (23 S-92s) and an important decision by the U.S. Army’s Advanced Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) to go with the Boeing/Sikorsky partnership to help develop the digital backbone of the Joint Multi Role technology demonstrator (JMR TD) all helps to push the business forward in harsh economic times.
“The award of the Joint Common Architecture for the JMR TD says a lot of the benefit of teaming with Boeing,” noted Maurer. “We both have significant strengths. We think there is great benefit to having the air vehicle and mission system together and now there is that possibility.”
Graphic of the CSAR helicopter. Courtesy of Sikorsky
When asked about the next generation of helicopter from Sikorsky, he said that the first flight of the S-97 Raider – still on track for the end of the year – was not only proving to the Army that an Armed Aerial Scout was available whenever they might need it, but also that it was a risk-reducing measure in terms of where the company (with partner Boeing) was going along the JMR TD path. Asked whether there would be a successor in time to the latest UH-60M Black Hawk, he said: “We don’t have a UH-60N model in the works, but never say never.”
Regarding the S-97, Maurer continued: “There was an perception that this was going to have a really big price tag. But if you fly it and can project the cost of parts today and tomorrow, however many years ahead, you can have a understanding of that cost.”
When considering major programs and the role of innovation, Maurer made the point that there are very few programs of any magnitude where one company goes it alone: “We are with Lockheed Martin in the Air Force’s CSAR program; the Presidential VXX, the DARPA X-Plane; with Boeing and Aurora Flight Sciences, then others such as Kaman makes the cockpits for the Black Hawk.”
Analyzing the financial position of the business, Maurer said that the combined $8 billion from the CSAR and VXX programs were very positive for Sikorsky’s overall balance sheet, and while the Canadian Maritime Helicopter program would balance the equation downward, the outcome there was now confirmed.
Look for the full interview in an upcoming issue of Rotor & Wing.
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