STRATFORD, Conn. — Sikorsky Aircraft celebrated the 1,000th delivery of a Black Hawk helicopter to the U.S. Army in a special ceremony Thursday morning at its Stratford headquarters.
"Congrats to all the workers at @Sikorsky on delivering the 1000th Black Hawk to the @USArmy. We're proud these helicopters are built in #CT!" Gov. Dannel Malloy said via Twitter.
The helicopter was the 1,000th H-60M Black Hawk for the U.S. Army.
"I know that I speak for all of our employees, many of us military service veterans, when I describe the tremendous pride we feel today," said Sikorsky President Dan Schultz. "We are honored to provide our country's men and women in uniform with a proven multi-role aircraft they can count on to perform their missions every day."
The event was also attended by U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro as well as Brig.-Gen. Robert L. Marion; and Col. William "Billy" Jackson.
"The UH-60 is often referred to as the workhorse of Army Aviation and as such your efforts here, past, present, and future, are critical to the continued defense of our nation," Marion said. "The rollout of the 1,000th UH-60M Black Hawk marks an important outcome of our Aviation Modernization Plan, and these aircraft will transform our aviation fleet to a more flexible, capable, and ready team."
Sikorsky delivered the first UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter in 2007 and the first HH-60M Medevac helicopter in 2008.
The ceremony marked the delivery of the 792nd UH-60M and the 208th HH-60M helicopters. The newest models feature more powerful engines than older variants, a new airframe, avionics and propulsion system, improved rotor blades, a digital cockpit, and an autopilot, among other modern enhancements.
Currently, there are 2,135 H-60 Black Hawk helicopters in service, making the Army's Black Hawk helicopter fleet the largest flying fleet of all the services. The Army fleet of Black Hawk helicopters of all models has flown nearly 9 million flight hours, many of them in combat.
The U.S. Air Force, National Guard, Army Reserve and 10 militaries throughout the world fly H-60M model aircraft. The Department of State, Customs & Border Protection and the Federal Bureau of Investigation also operate Black Hawks.
The special event came just days after members of Teamsters Local 1150 voted overwhelmingly to approve a deal between Lockheed Martin and the state to keep Sikorsky Aircraft in Connecticut .
On Sunday, the membership voted 2,104 to 140 to approve the plan. Sikorsky will build 200 heavy-lift CH-53K King Stallion helicopters for the U.S. Navy in the Connecticut and will keep its headquarters in Stratford as part of the $220 million deal with the state of Connecticut.
The union was the final group to approve the contract, which passed the General Assembly last month.
As part of the deal, hourly rates for employees hired after July 1, 2017, will be cut 25 percent, according to the Teamsters Local 1150 website. Current employees will receive a $1,500 ratification bonus for approving the deal.
The deal will also keep Sikorsky at its current Stratford headquarters until at least 2032.
The agreement that the state made with Sikorsky owner Lockheed Martin will retain and grow 8,000 direct jobs and see Sikorsky double its spending of $350 million per year among in-state suppliers.
In exchange, Connecticut will provide financial incentives totaling up to $220 million over the term of the agreement. Sikorsky will receive grants of up to $8.57 million on an annual basis as long as it meets certain benchmarks in regards to growing jobs, payroll spending, utilizing in-state suppliers and deploying capital for machinery and equipment. Sales and use taxes will be exempted up to $5.7 million per year.
If Lockheed Martin exceeds the target level employment by 100 to 550 jobs in any given year, it will be eligible for a performance incentive grant of up to $1.9 million, for a total of up to $20 million.
Sikorsky employs 7,855 people at its facilities in Stratford, Bridgeport, Shelton and North Haven.