U.S. Air Force pencils in Sikorsky for helicopter buy

Reuters

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Sikorsky Aircraft Co, a unitof United Technologies Corp, will be awarded a contractto supply the U.S. Air Force's combat rescue helicopter (CRH)program, but only if funding survives the military budget axe.

"The award is contingent on the outcome of the president'sbudget review process, where CRH would need to be funded acrossthe future year's defense program," Air Force spokeswoman ErikaYepsen said in a statement.

Top Air Force officials have said recently that the CRHprogram is not among the service's highest priorities at a timeof tightening budgets.

Only one offer was received for the military's proposal.Sikorsky "provided an acceptable technical solution and weintend to award a contract based upon budget availability,"Yepsen said.

The combat search and rescue helicopter contract could bevalued at up to $6.8 billion.

The Air Force has been trying to replace its aging fleet ofSikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters for many years.

In 2006, it picked Boeing's H-47 Chinook helicopter,but the Pentagon canceled the $15 billion contract in 2009 aftermultiple protests by the losing bidders.

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