Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has submitted its Sierra Force helicopter in its final bid and proposal to replace the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) UH-1N Huey fleet. Sierra Force is an innovative solution to the USAF’s need for a cost-effective, multi-mission aircraft, utilizing a modernized and remanufactured UH-60L Black Hawk.
“We are very proud of the quality solution offered in this proposal and SNC is confident the Air Force will appreciate the combination of advanced technology, low risk and exceptional price,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of SNC’s Integrated Mission Systems business area.
The Sierra Force is unique in its design and affordability. SNC will purchase divested UH-60A helicopters from the U.S. Army. Then, it will convert the aircraft’s exterior and interior, effectively upgrading it to a UH-60L model. This allows for a modern, cost-effective helicopter.
The A model has a lower price-per-unit to purchase, but once the conversion to an L model is complete, Sierra Force is essentially a new aircraft. The Sierra Force UH60L is equipped with two new General Electric Aviation T-701D engines and a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and avionics suite. Using a metal airframe for the Sierra Force — different from composite materials — enables a longer service life and lower overall maintenance costs.
Remanufacturing allows SNC to effectively recapitalize on existing government assets, significantly reducing production costs and returning money to the U.S. government, making the aircraft much more affordable.
“Our proposal is based on an open system where the government owns most of the intellectual property and will not be locked in with SNC for the 40-year program period,” Owings said. “This translates into cost savings for the government over the course of the program. In short, this creates a best-value solution for the USAF and bolsters the nation’s economy.”
The Sierra Force helicopter production plan includes acquiring UH-60A helicopters through the U.S. Army’s Blackhawk Exchange Support Team (BEST) program in Huntsville, Alabama and A-to-L conversion by the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Texas. Upgrade, missionization and delivery activities will be conducted at SNC’s Huntsville facility.
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