IN PERSONAL MEETING WITH SECRETARY OF AIR FORCE NOMINEE, SCHUMER ADVOCATES FOR CROWN JEWEL OF SOUTHERN TIER ECONOMY, COMBAT RESCUE HELICOPTER PROGRAM; SENATOR URGES NO CUTS TO ESSENTIAL CHOPPER PROGRAM THAT SAVES LIVES ON THE BATTLEFIELD AND KEEPS THOUSANDS OF LOCKHEED MARTIN OWEGO EMPLOYEES ON THE JOB
The Air Force’s Combat Rescue Helicopter, Produced By Lockheed Martin In Owego, Is Used To Extricate Troops From Dangerous Situations And Bring Them Home Safely; Program Maintains Thousands Of Jobs At Lockheed Martin Owego
In A Personal Meeting With Secretary Of The Air Force Nominee Barbara Barrett, Schumer Emphasizes The Critical Importance Of The Combat Rescue Helicopter Program To The U.S. Military And The Southern Tier; Pushes For Full Support Of Continued Production At Lockheed Martin Owego
Schumer: Investment In Combat Rescue Helicopter Program Is A Win-Win For Southern Tier Economy, U.S. Troops
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, in a personal meeting with Barbara Barrett last Thursday, the nominee to become the next U.S. Secretary of the Air Force, emphasized the importance of continued investment in the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) program to the Southern Tier and Upstate New York. Schumer explained that production of the Air Force’s CHR is conducted at the Lockheed Martin plant in Owego, which provides thousands of good-paying jobs to New Yorkers. Schumer has long fought to fund the CRH program, securing $1.106 billion for it during last year’s appropriations process, and urged the Air Force to ensure that it suffers no production cuts over the coming years.
“The Combat Rescue Helicopter program is not only vital to our national defense, but the crown jewel of our Southern Tier economy, as well, helping to keep thousands of Lockheed Martin’s world-class Southern Tier workforce on the job,” said Senator Schumer. “During my meeting with Barbara Barrett, nominee to become Secretary of the Air Force, I made sure she knew just how important this essential program is to our troops in the battlefield and to the region, and how it must not suffer any production cuts over the coming years. I’ll always fight tooth and nail for federal programs and investments that continue to let Lockheed Martin Owego do what it does best: producing superior technology and equipment that keeps our U.S. armed forces safe.”
In 2014, the United States Air Force (USAF) announced it had awarded a $1.28 billion contract to Sikorsky Aircraft and Lockheed Martin Owego to begin building a new fleet of 112 CRHs, which are used by the military to extricate troops from dangerous situations and bring them home safely. The contract sustains a large portion of the workforce at Lockheed Martin Owego for the next decade and creates hundreds of other indirect jobs at local vendors and suppliers. Schumer fought for years to ensure that building a new fleet of CRHs continued to be a priority for the USAF, after the program’s future—and a potential major contract for Lockheed Martin Owego—was brought into doubt due to an internal USAF restructuring debate.
Lockheed Martin Owego is specifically tasked with developing the defensive systems, data links, mission computers, adverse weather sensors, mission planning systems and system integration of the CRH. Schumer explained that the new CRH fleet is necessary as the current fleet of rescue aircraft date back to the 1970s, and is now outdated after years of chronic use and combat damage.
The USAF announced in 2010 that it would replace its aging and increasingly outdated combat rescue helicopter fleet—called the HH-60G PAVE HAWK helicopters—with new aircraft capable of performing demanding personnel recovery missions, including combat rescue and casualty evacuation. Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin Owego then offered a proposed helicopter design – the CRH-60 – that would modernize the USAF’s aging combat rescue helicopter fleet and provide the capabilities needed on the modern battlefield. This new CRH program will eventually replace the aging HH-60G legacy fleet with 112 new combat rescue helicopters. This new aircraft features increased internal fuel capability and additional internal cabin space.
Schumer has a years-long history of advocacy for production of the CRH at Lockheed Martin Owego. In 2014, Schumer visited Lockheed Martin Owego, called the Former Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to publicly support the CRH program, explaining that the current fleet of aircraft for the mission were outdated and the military needed new and more capable helicopters. In January of 2015 Schumer announced that, after his continued efforts with top defense officials, the FY2014 Appropriations Bill included funding for the Air Force’s CRH. One month later in February, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand sent a letter to Secretary Hagel urging him to support the next generation CRH and to fully fund it across the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). Schumer then urged then-Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James to award this contract and get the program running, as it would help the Air Force recover downed aircrew and isolated personnel in hostile environments. In subsequent years, Schumer fought tooth and nail for full appropriations for Lockheed Martin Owego during subsequent appropriations processes, securing $1.106 billion for it in the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill.