For a while, Sikorsky and its HH-60U Black Hawk, and the Boeing/Leonardo team with its MH-139, have been at the forefront of the U.S. Air Force’s UH-1N replacement competition. But as the deadline for proposals passed mid-September, there was another contending aircraft in the running. Without a large sales or marketing effort surrounding its bid aircraft, called “Force Hawk,” Sierra Nevada Corp. went generally unnoticed for the year-plus it was developing its proposal.
The Air Force had originally wanted to sole-source the Huey replacement contract to Sikorsky for Black Hawks. The contract only became competitive when met with congressional opposition. It isn’t an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) like Sikorsky, Boeing or Leonardo, but lead systems integrator Sierra Nevada Corp. does not view itself as an underdog, according to its director of business development, Jack Bailey. In the opinion of Sierra Nevada Corp., the Air Force’s desire for a Black Hawk did not necessarily equal a desire to contract Sikorsky.
“At face value, we looked at it from the perspective that if [the solicitation] does best suit a Black Hawk, it’s a matter of whose Black Hawk,” Bailey told R&WI.