Sikorsky [UTX] has chosen Rockwell Collins [COL] as the avionics supplier for the Air Force’s HH-60W combat rescue helicopter (CRH), the companies said Sept. 14.

Sikorsky was awarded the CRH engineering and manufacturing development contract in June 2014 to develop up to four helicopters, seven training systems, and to provide initial product support. The company also was given the authority to choose a avionics and mission-systems supplier.

The contract includes production options for fielding a total of 112 HH-60W helicopters to replace the U.S. Air Force’s aging fleet of HH-60G helicopters.

Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle said Sept. 15 that the CRH program was a necessity for current and future coalition operations because U.S. allies rely on Air Force capabilities to recover downed pilots behind enemy lines.

“In many cases for our coalition partners to participate in operations they need to have U.S. personnel-recovery and they need to have it close and they need to be able to rely on it,” Carlisle said at the Air Force Association’s annual Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. “We have to keep the combat rescue helicopter on track. We have to keep that moving forward.”

“We’ve got to find the technologies to be able to do [personnel recovery] in a contested environment,” he added. “The moral obligation we have is to pick up our folks that are down behind enemy lines.”

Rockwell Collins will provide state-of-the art avionics and mission equipment, including the cockpit flight and mission display system, navigation radios and the advanced ARC-210 V/UHF communication system.

“In the midst of a combat zone, threats can come from all directions. To make sure Air Force pilots are able to conduct search and rescue operations safely, it’s vital that they have the most advanced avionics available to improve situational awareness while enhancing mission capability,” Troy Brunk, vice president and general manager of Rockwell’s airborne solutions, said in a statement.  “Sikorsky’s selection of our latest display and communications technologies for the CRH program will help ensure success for the combat rescue mission.”

Rockwell Collins’ integrated cockpit flight and mission display system provides situational awareness that reduces pilot workload during CRH missions. The cockpit avionics suite was designed with modular open systems architecture to allow for rapid and affordable upgrades over the service life of the aircraft. A similar glass avionics suite is already being retrofitted onto the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters.

Capable of a wide operating temperature range, providing superior optical performance and designed for a wide viewing angle for excellent cross-cockpit viewing, Rockwell’s multi-function displays are fully compliant with the latest night vision imaging system (NVIS) standards.

The CRH contract includes the newest generation ARC-210 to provide secure voice communications, including civil interoperability (APCO-25). It offers the CRH program future growth for advanced ad hoc networking as well as next generation SATCOM with the Mobile Users Objective System (MUOS) capability to bring increased throughput and simultaneous voice and data.