The Air Force recently exercised a contract option with Sikorsky worth $203 million to acquire five system demonstration test articles (SDTA) for the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) program, according to a company statement.

This exercised option is in addition to the $1.2 billion contract awarded in June 2014 for the first four engineering manufacturing and development (EMD) aircraft, which will begin assembly early this year for delivery in 2018.

Artist's rendering of the Air Force's Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH). Photo: Sikorsky.
Artist’s rendering of the Air Force’s Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH). Photo: Sikorsky.

Sikorsky spokeswoman Erin Cox said Tuesday the five SDTA aircraft will be used to fulfill a variety of contract requirements that include both test and training requirements. All SDTA aircraft will be production representative HH-60W aircraft, she said. They will also specifically support development testing activities to validate that the system meets the Air Force requirements and support initial flight training for service experimental test and instructor pilots, as well as special mission aviator aircrew.

These five demonstration helicopters will also provide initial flight training for Air Force experimental test and instructor pilots. This training will include the pilots located at the first operational unit. Cox said all SDTA aircraft will be provided to the Air Force in final production configuration to be fielded accordingly. She said the service will determine whether they are assigned to operational or training units after the EMD phase completes in 2020.

The five SDTA aircraft will begin major assembly in 2018 with delivery to the Air Force beginning in early 2019 through 2020. Once these aircraft are delivered, the Air Force will conduct the initial operational test and evaluation.

The Air Force program of record calls for 112 helicopters to replace the service’s aging HH-60G Pave Hawk aircraft, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery options for all United States military services.

Sikorsky is a division of Lockheed Martin [LMT].