(The Center Square) — Connecticut’s congressional delegation is calling on the Army to provide more details about its decision to reject a local company’s bid for a multimillion-dollar defense contract to build long-range helicopters.
Sikorsky Aircraft, maker of the iconic Blackhawk helicopters, submitted a proposal to the Army in 2018 to develop a new armed scout helicopter. But last week, the Army announced that it was scrapping its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, delivering a major blow to the company.
In a joint statement, the entire seven-member delegation demanded that the Army provide a detailed explanation of why they are scrapping the program and “how they plan to achieve crucial aviation capabilities, thoughtfully prepare our national defense for the future, and utilize the exceptional and seasoned workforce at Sikorsky for generations to come.”
“We are extremely disappointed that the Army has decided to walk away from the FARA program,” the lawmakers said. “We have been told on multiple occasions by the Army that FARA was their No. 1 priority. This is a complete reversal of that position.”
The lawmakers said Sikorsky has” the world’s greatest workforce when it comes to vertical lift aircraft and decades of proven results when it comes to supplying the U.S. Armed Forces and militaries across the globe with safe dependable military and commercial aircraft.”
“With a $1 billion investment, X2 aircraft offer speed, range and agility that no other helicopter in the world can match. We remain confident in X2 aircraft for U.S. and international mission needs now and in the future. We are disappointed in this decision and will await a U.S. Army debrief to better understand its choice,” Sikorsky said in a statement.
Army officials said the move to scrap the program is part of a larger reorganization of its aviation programs that aim to free up resources for other investments in technology — including new unmanned aircraft. In a statement, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said the service is “deeply committed to our aviation portfolio and to our partners in the aviation industrial base.”
“These steps enable us to work with industry to deliver critical capabilities as part of the joint force, place the Army on a sustainable strategic path, and continue the Army’s broader modernization plan which is the service’s most significant modernization effort in more than four decades,” she said.
This is the second major Army contract that the company, which employs thousands of workers in the state, has lost out on in the past two years.
In 2022, Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky lost a bid to build the replacement for the Black Hawk helicopter, a contract worth up to $7.1 billion. Sikorsky filed a formal appeal to the Army’s selection of Texas-based Textron Inc.’s proposed helicopter, but it was rejected.
At the time, Connecticut’s congressional delegation repeatedly pressed the Army for answers and raised concerns over why Sikorsky was not selected.
The Army’s decision jeopardized an agreement Sikorsky signed with Connecticut to keep its operations in the state in exchange for hefty tax breaks. The deal made Sikorsky eligible for up to $75 million in tax credits, contingent on it securing two major military contracts to produce helicopters and other equipment.
The package of tax breaks and incentives were aimed at ensuring the firm remains headquartered in Connecticut for at least another 20 years.