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The Air Force awarded Sikorsky Aircraft of Stratford, Conn., a $1.28 billion contract on June 26, 2014, to develop the service’s Combat Rescue Helicopter, shown here in an artist's rendering. Sikorsky illustration

The Air Force on Thursday awarded Sikorsky Aircraft of Stratford, Conn., a $1.28 billion contract to develop the service’s Combat Rescue Helicopter, the replacement to the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The Air Force intends to procure up to 112 Combat Rescue Helicopters; this contract is the first step toward that goal. "We are committed to ensuring our airmen are equipped to rescue America's warriors whenever and wherever necessary," said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, in the Air Force’s release. "This contract secures that mission for many years to come," he said. The CRH is a derivative of the Army’s UH-60M Black Hawk; among its features will be increased fuel capacity, compared to the HH-60G, and more internal cabin space, states Sikorsky’s release. This contract covers the CRH’s initial engineering and manufacturing development phase, procurement of the first four helicopters, and seven aircrew and maintainer training systems. If the Air Force exercises all contract options and buys 112 helicopters, work under this contract would have a total value of some $7.9 billion, according to Sikorsky. Lockheed Martin is the major subsystems supplier on Sikorsky’s industry team. (See also Pentagon’s list of major contracts for June 26.)