VOUGHT AND HELICOPTERS

Vought has an association with helicopters which goes back to the very beginnings of a successful helicopter in the United States. The first helicopter design in the United States to fly successfully (May 1940) was the Vought-Sikorsky 300, note that is the VOUGHT-Sikorsky 300.

VS-300



The Chance Vought and Sikorsky Division of United Aircraft Corporation were combined into a single division in 1939. Although helicopters were Mr. Igor Sikorsky's project, Vought greatly assisted in his project after the units combined. Not long after the VS-300 came the VS-316 or R-4 which became known as the Hoverfly. It was the first production helicopter purchased by the U. S. military.

VS-316

R-4 delivering the mail

Sikorsky was reconstituted as a separate division, as was Vought, when it was clear there was a market for the helicopter.

In the late 1940s Vought developed the V-162, V-173 and XF-5U as they investigated STOL aircraft.

 

V-173


V-162

XF5-U1

In 1964 Vought was the lead contractor on the XC-142. Built by an industrial team of LTV, Ryan & Hiller. The XC-142A was powered by four T-64 turboshaft engines built by General Electric and driving four 15.5-foot Hamilton Standard fiberglass propellers. The US Air Force was the developing agency for the Department of Defense, with the joint sponsorship of the Navy and Army.

XC-142


The XC-142A was the largest and fastest VTOL transport airplane flying at that time. It achieved more than 400 miles per hour at cruise altitude during flight testing.

On July 18, 1969, Vought Helicopter Incorporated, a subsidiary of LTV Aerospace Corporation. became the licensee for Sud Aviacion Helicopters. Sud Aviacion, shortly thereafter changed its name to Aerospatiale.

Organization of the new company was quickly formed with Joe Silverman as President. He had served Vought in various assignments over a period of about 36 years. Bob McCarthy, formerly with the Bullocks, became Vice President of Marketing. Ed Denari became Director of Administration, and another long-time Vought employee, Clint Hawk became Manager of Customer Support. Clint Hawk was later appointed Sales Manager and later, Vice President. Clint's management of the program began to produce positive results. Over a period of about four years, VHI was credited with sales of 145 helicopters to about 59 customers. The product mix included the Alouette II and III, the Lama, and the Gazelle.

Lama

As a result of declining sales and negative expectations, management began to reduce the company's operating expenses and some of the marketing personnel were released in late 1972. LTV appointed Hal Hawes as President. Hal was also a veteran of LTV and an outstanding manager. He appointed Phil Johnson to the position of Sales Manager. Hal Hawes died unexpectedly after only a short time in office. This event, coupled with continuing disappointing sales, led to a virtual shut down of activity with only a fraction of peak employment left to fulfill commitments.

VHI Gazelle

In January of 1974 Aerospatiale took over complete control of the company with existing personnel and facilities. It was the beginning of another comeback effort. Jake Benner, whom LTV had transferred into the organization a few months earlier, became President with Ron LaFleur as Director of Marketing. The new company sold 52 helicopters in the first year and forecasted 65 units for 1975. They changed VHI's name to Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation (AHC). In 1980 AHC built its current Grand Prairie facility.
In 1992, Deutsche Aerospace (Germany) and Aerospatiale merged to formEurocopter; AHC became American Eurocopter.

In 2004, a new facility was opened in Columbus, MS. In 2006, the facility became the manufacturing facility and home for the U.S. Army's newest helicopter, the UH-72A Lakota.

In 1988 Vought teamed with Eurocopter to prepare a replacement for the US Army's Huey helicopters when a RFP was offered.

Panther 800

In June 1992, Vought teamed with Eurocopter and IBM to furnish the US Army with the Panther 800 helicopter in a proposal for the LUH (Light Utility Helicopter) program.

Black Hawk

Later Vought agreed to be a subcontractor on the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk hekicopter. Vought helps to build the cabin. First deployed in 1978, the Black Hawk's advanced technology makes it easy to maintain in the field. The Black Hawk has performed admirably in a variety of missions, including air assault, air cavalry and aeromedical evacuations. In addition, modified Black Hawks operate as command and control, electronic warfare, and special operations platforms. The UH-60A, first flown in October 1974, was developed as result of the Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) program. The UTTAS was designed for troop transport, command and control, MedEvac, and reconnaissance, to replace the UH-1 Series "Huey" in the combat assault role. That helicopter has grown into a long term contract in that UH 60s are being refurbished or replaced with the new UH-60 M model. A new, monolithic cabin, manufactured by Vought Aircraft Industries is being used. The monolithic structure reduces the parts count for the Black Hawk by thousands. The first phase of Vought's contract with Sikorsky calls for production of 350 shipsets through 2009. In service for more than 20 years, the Black Hawk was to undergo a $15 billion remanufacture process for the U.S. Army to upgrade hundreds of UH-60As and Ls to the -60M configuration. Variants range from utility based to specialty models. The original US Army production Balck Hawk became the UH-60A while the UH-60L appeared with upgraded T700-GE-701C engines and other updates. The UH-60M appeared with further improvements and replaced original production Black Hawks. MedEvac versions included the UH-60Q while Special Operations Forces were given the specialized and armed MH-60K and MH-60L models. VIP models in US service were the VH-60D "Nighthawk" and VH-60N "Whitehawk" variants.

Sikorsky S-70 is the company designation for the series. UH-60 "Black Hawk" is generally the US Army designation while HH-60 "Pave Hawk" is the United States Air Force designation. The US Coast Guard uses the helicopter in its specially developed HH-60 "Jayhawk" guise. The United States Navy operates the SH-60 "Seahawk". Many export versions of the Black Hawk have surfaced as well with most under the base S-70 designation.

When armed, the Black Hawk can take on firepower in the form of 30mm chain guns, machine gun pods, heavy caliber and general purpose machine guns and miniguns. Additionally, optional wing stubs can provide for the use of external fuel tanks (coming in two sizes - see armaments suite for specifics) for increased operational ranges or Hellfire anti-tank missiles and 2.75" rocket pods for increased lethality.

The UH-60 Black Hawk made its US combat debut in the 1983 Invasion of Grenada and later in the 1989 Invasion of Panama. The Black Hawk was put to good use in the 1991 coalition offensive of the 1991 Persian Gulf War to remove Saddam Hussein's invasion force from Kuwaiti soil. Perhaps the Black Hawks involvement in the assault on the capital city of Mogadishi in Somalia is what most observers will forever remember in regards to the helicopter's history. In the assault, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by enemy rocket-propelled grenades, leading to the horrifically televised display of the loss of American lives (18 in all, including one captured and 73 wounded), effectively signaling the beginning of the end of US involvement in that country. At the turn of the century, 9/11 forced direct American involvement in Afghanistan and - later - Iraq, extending the, yet, unwritten history of the Black Hawk helicopter into tomorrow.

The UH-60M represents the current Black Hawk production model. Operators of the Black Hawk range from the Pacific Rim to South America, the Middle East to Europe. Some of the largest operators include the United States, Columbia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia.

The UH-60 Black Hawk, in all its varied forms, should continue to see active service at least through 2020.

Vought teamed with Boeing to be a subcontractor on the V-22 Osprey (empennage, ramp/ramp door)

V-22

When The Music Stops - Change Partners


VH-92

On January 26, 2004, a Sikorsky-led VH-92 Team which included Vought as a partner submitted to the government its fully-compliant proposal for the next generation presidential helicopter. That bid was lost to the team of AgustaWestland' and Lockheed Martin. After announcing the winner of the competition, the government then decided to withdraw the request for proposals so as to reissue a new one closer to their needs. The helicopter program, with the military designation VH-71, was canceled in May 2009 after constantly increasing requirements resulted in unacceptable price increases and production delays. The VH-71 program also was criticized for using a foreign-made aircraft.

In the new competition for the contract besides Sikorsky and Vought was a team headed by Boeing with Lockheed Martin. It surprised everyone when the program was revived in 2010 but the main competitors had changed partners. Sikorsky signed a teaming agreement to compete jointly, with Lockheed Martin. Sikorsky as prime contractor offering its H-92 medium-lift helicopter for the presidential transport mission and Lockheed Martin, a leading rotary wing systems integrator, as the major subsystems supplier. Boeing then teamed with AgustaWestland, with all the rights to the AugustaWestland's 1101 helicopter to be built in the US.

Then in June, 2010, Boeing suddenly announced it was withdrawing its proposal with which it was teamed with AgustWestland and would instead offer a proposal based on a team arrangement with Sikorsky. AgustaWestland then teamed with Lockheed Martin and it was announced they had won. Then the RFP was again put on hold.

The contract for the new fleet is not likely to be awarded until after the presidential election in 2012, and the first helicopters would hit the skies in 2017.

Whether Vought is in the picture for the Presidential helicopter or not, Vought will continue to investigate opportunities with helicopters in the forseeable future especially considering its associations with such companies as Boeing, Sikorsky and Eurocopter.

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