The U.S. State Department is still awaiting the delivery of 13 refurbished Sikorsky S-61T Triton helicopters it ordered under a 2010 umbrella contract, initially to support the diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. The department has already received 16 modernized S-61Ns.
The S-61T upgrade, a joint program of Sikorsky and overhauler Carson Helicopters, of Perkasie, Pa., improves decommissioned U.S. Navy H-3 Sea Kings with Carson composite main rotor blades, modular wiring harnesses, a survivability suite and an optional glass cockpit. On January 6, Sikorsky announced that the first S-61T with an integrated glass cockpit had completed its first test flight late last year. At the time, it said the first S-61T delivery to the State Department was scheduled for the first quarter this year. The company did not immediately respond when asked recently for a program update.
Sikorsky Aerospace Services, the manufacturer’s aftermarket business, announced in February 2010 that it had entered into an idefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract with the State Department to deliver up to 110 modernized S-61N and short-body Triton models. The five-year contract is with the department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Air Wing, based at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. The wing operates a fleet of 150 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft supporting counternarcotics, counterterrorism, border security, law enforcement, and embassy transportation missions. The first four helicopters under the IDIQ contract were to support missions of the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan.
In response to an AIN query, the State Department said it has taken delivery of 16 S-61Ns but is “still waiting” for the 13 S-61Ts. It declined to specify if the new helicopters will support the mission in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are withdawing. “The disposition of those helicopters once received is to be determined. Due to the sensitivity of our operations, we do not discuss the specifics of our security posture or procedures,” the department said in an email.
AIN understands that four U.S.-registered S-61Ns were stationed recently at the UK Royal Air Force’s Akrotiri station on Cyprus. RAF Akrotiri serves as a forward base for operations in the Middle East and also supports operations in Afghanistan.