Lockheed Martin Company Sikorsky has won a contract worth more than $500m from the US Air Force (USAF) to build 12 additional HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters (CRH).

The second Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract award, known as Lot 2, follows a string of significant programme achievements last year.

The milestones included first flight, the achievement of the Milestone C decision from the USAF in September last year, and award of the first LRIP contract to build ten aircraft.

The all-new HH-60W helicopters are based on the UH-60M Black Hawk and customised for the USAF’s rescue mission.

Sikorsky CRH programme director Greg Hames said: “This second contract award demonstrates the confidence the US Air Force has in Sikorsky’s proven ability to deliver and support the next generation combat search and rescue helicopter.

“Our team works daily, and in close collaboration with our customer, to ensure we build and deliver this highly capable and much-needed helicopter to the warfighter.”

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The Milestone C decision moved the CRH programme into low rate initial production.

Out of seven CRH aircraft that are in flight, two of them are at Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

All of them are engaged in expanded flight tests to support the path forward to Required Assets Available (RAA).

At present, low rate initial production of CRH Lot 1 aircraft major assembly is underway, and Lot 2 assembly will follow.

The programme is expected to meet contract delivery of RAA this year.

The new helicopter, which was named ‘Jolly Green II’ by USAF, arrived at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando. Its new fuel system nearly doubles the capacity of the main fuel tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk.