Funding Would Keep Helicopter Programs on Track & Help Maintain Southern Tier Jobs – Bill Includes $302 Million in Funding for New Fleet of Presidential Helicopters & $273 Million in Funding for New Fleet of Combat Search & Rescue Helicopters, Major Elements of Both Are Produced By Lockheed Martin in Owego

Schumer: Funding Is Critical for Lockheed Martin Owego, At The Forefront Of Two of The Most Important Helicopter Programs In World

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Senate Defense Appropriations Bill includes $302.8 million for the Presidential Helicopter program and $273.3 million for the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) program, two major helicopter manufacturing projects being undertaken by a team of Sikorsky Aircraft and Lockheed Martin Owego. The more than $575 million for Lockheed Owego will complement the $663 million it received to continue these two programs in last year’s omnibus spending bill. Schumer pushed his colleagues in the House and Senate to pass this bill to ensure Lockheed can keep both programs on schedule next year.

“This is a major milestone in our quest to secure the funding needed to build these state-of-the-art Presidential and Combat Search and Rescue helicopter fleets in Owego. These programs are vital our military, to protecting our president and top government officials and to the entire Southern Tier economy. The inclusion of this funding in the defense appropriations means we are one step closer to making sure Lockheed has the funding it needs to continue moving these helicopters down the assembly line,” said Senator Schumer. “I am urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to vote for this bill. Doing so will allow us to maintain hundreds of jobs in the Southern Tier, keep our President safe, and support our troops serving around the world.”

Combat Rescue Helicopter

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 is expected to sustain a large portion of the workforce at Lockheed Martin Owego for the next decade and create 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 has been 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 support all services needed in combat. 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.

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 2015, Schumer announced that, after his continued efforts with top defense officials, the FY2015 Appropriations Bill included funding for the Air Force’s CRH, which is now part of the allocation going to Lockheed Martin. Schumer also 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).

The 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard, located in Westhampton Beach, is a combat search and rescue unit, using combat rescue helicopters to complete their vital mission.

Presidential Helicopter

In 2014, the U.S. Navy also announced it had awarded a $1.24 billion contract to Sikorsky Aircraft and Lockheed Martin Owego to build a new fleet of Marine One helicopters that are used to transport the President of the United States. Lockheed Martin Owego is being tasked with manufacturing and installing the helicopters’ mission communications systems and will also provide the maintenance training device and procedures trainer.  Additionally, the presidential helicopters will receive executive paint in Owego. The contract is expected to create or sustain high-skilled jobs in Owego. In 2009, Schumer secured a continuance to support Lockheed Martin’s involvement in Naval Helicopter Programs and visited Lockheed Martin Owego last year to support the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin bid for the new fleet of Marine One helicopters.

The current fleet of presidential helicopters is comprised of Sikorsky Black Hawk/Sea King models that are 35 and 40 years old, and they are in desperate need of replacing. The Navy contract is for a fleet of 23 new presidential helicopters, 21 for use and 2 for testing.

In 2009, as the previous presidential helicopter program was canceled, Schumer worked with leaders in the Administration and appropriators to mitigate damage and negative job impact by negotiating a compromise that provided $100 million in funding to Lockheed Martin for mission systems and other technology work. As a result, 250 engineer jobs were saved at the Lockheed Martin Owego location, which helped minimize job losses. 


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