Sikorsky Aircraft has successfully completed its maiden test flight of the upgraded S-61T Sea King helicopter, featuring an integrated glass cockpit and enhanced performance capabilities, at an undisclosed location.
Apart from a full structural refurbishment and overhaul of all major dynamic components, the modernised helicopter also features new composite main rotor blades (CMRB), a survivability suite, an advanced glass cockpit, as well as new electrical wiring.
The helicopters have been in the process of upgrading by the company since 2010, with an aim to return them to productive service.
Sikorsky S-61 programmes director Steven Rogers said the maiden test flight represents a significant milestone in the S-61T’s upgrade programme.
"The modernised S-61T helicopter can be outfitted to meet a wide variety of requirements, and we believe it provides best-in-class-value for a mid-size, multi-mission helicopter," Rogers said.
Powered by two General Electric CT58-140 turboshaft engines, the S-61 helicopter has reliably performed a range of missions, including search and rescue (SAR), troop transport and amphibious anti-submarine warfare, for the US and foreign allied militaries over the past several decades.
Sikorsky is set to deliver up to 110 refurbished S-61 helicopters to the US Department of State (DoS) as part of a five-year indefinite delivery, set up in the indefinite quantity (IDIQ) agreement signed in February 2010.
The IDIQ purchase agreement serves as the contracting vehicle for any US government agency to acquire the new helicopter.
Sikorsky has so far handed over 16 helicopters to the DoS, which is expected to use choppers for passenger and cargo transport roles in support of its worldwide operations.
Image: A US Coastguards’ S-61R helicopter during its flight. Photo: courtesy of BilCat.