A key Air Force officer said Monday the service could order more than the 112 HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters (CRH) it is currently planning to procure.

“Right now the order is 112, even that is a bit light on the number,” Air Combat Command (ACC) chief Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle told reporters following an Air Force Association (AFA) breakfast event in Arlington, Va. “The number of 112 CRHs is a minimum, we have to get to that many.”

The Air Force's Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) will replace the HH-60G, shown here. Photo: Air Force.
The Air Force’s Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) will replace the HH-60G, shown here. Photo: Air Force.

Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick said Monday the service performed the system requirements review (SRR) in April, a major step in the program. Little has been said publically by Air Force brass since the massive $1.3 billion engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract for CRH was awarded to Sikorsky last summer. The contract also includes procurement of the first four of the program’s planned 112 aircraft. If all options are exercised, the total contract amount is valued at $7.9 billion. Sikorsky was the only bidder (Defense Daily, June 26).

Carlisle said the program was “going great,” but didn’t offer further specifics. Under the management of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), Sikorsky will develop a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk model for the Air Force’s rescue mission, according to a service statement.

Like the UH-60M helicopter, the aircraft will feature T700-GE-701D engines, composite wide-chord main rotor blades and fatigue- and corrosion-resistant machined aero-structures to sustain maneuverability at high-density altitudes. Lockheed Martin [LMT] is contributing its mission planning system, defensive systems, data links, mission computers, adverse weather sensors and system integration of all CRH-unique subsystems to Sikorsky’s offering.

Sikorsky spokeswoman Erin Cox said major assembly of the first CRH is scheduled to begin in 2017. Sikorsky is a division of United Technologies Corp. [UTX]