The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is auctioning off the first of 13 Sikorsky S-61Ts that were supposed to ferry State Department personnel and materials around Iraq and Afghanistan but instead ended up being placed in storage in Florida. Opening bids start at $500,000, although the reserve is said to be higher.
The S-61T program rebuilt legacy aircraft from the U.S. Navy and foreign militaries via complete airframe restoration and adding glass panel avionics, new wiring, an all-composite rotor blade system, an external cargo hook capable of lifting 6,000 pounds, unspecified defensive systems, and uprated GE T58-GE-402 engines. These helicopters were designed to take off from 12,000-foot elevations and have a maximum range of 480 nm.
This program was a joint effort by Sikorsky and Carson Helicopters and designed to extend the life of the S-61 by 20 to 30 years. When the program was announced in 2010, there was the possibility of modifying up to 110 S-61s. However, program delays and changing government priorities substantially truncated that number. The first S-61T made its maiden test flight in January 2014.
The S-61 is a variant of the shorter SH-3 Sea King that first flew in 1961. More than 1,400 of these models were delivered to commercial and military customers before production ended in the 1970s.