Defense mega-giant Lockheed Martin has stepped up to purchase Sikorsky Helicopters for $9 billion. If the acquisition is approved by the government, which it almost certainly will be, it will mean the same parent company that builds the F-35, F-16, C-130J and provides a giant mountain of other defense products, will also build the legendary UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-53K King Stallion, S-92 Super Hawk and the exotic and promising new S-97 Raider.
Sikorsky’s previous long-time owner, United Technologies Corporation, looked to unload the legendary helicopter maker in a move to truncate its business portfolio by focusing on its most profitable properties. Bell also made an offer to purchase Sikorsky, but it seems Lockheed’s tender was more lucrative. Lockheed will also continue to provide parts and service for a myriad of Sikorsky ‘legacy’ products.
What remains to be seen is exactly how Lockheed will deal with its new property, especially in regards to autonomy. Lockheed could keep Sikorsky and its brand name in its own space, although it is more likely that the Sikorsky brand and its products will become branded and controlled more centrally under the Lockheed Martin umbrella. This will be done by integrating the it with an existing Lockheed business unit. Sikorsky and Lockheed already work together on various platforms, include the MH-60S/R Seahawk, the VH-92 Presidential Airlift Helicopter and the replacement for the HH-60G Pave Hawk.
It is also unclear what products, if any, will be pruned from the Sikorsky portfolio going forward as Lockheed works to make its acquisition a more profitable endeavor. It will be especially interesting to see where the S-97 Raider program ends up once the acquisition is finalized, not to mention if we hear about further outgrowths of the stealthy Black Hawks used in the Bin Laden raid.
Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman, president and CEO said this regarding the purchase:
“Sikorsky is a natural fit for Lockheed Martin and complements our broad portfolio of world-class aerospace and defense products and technologies... I’m confident this acquisition will help us extend our core business into the growing areas of helicopter production and sustainment. Together, we’ll offer a strong portfolio of helicopter solutions to our global customers and accelerate the pace of innovation and new technology development.”
Lockheed has been especially interested in unmanned helicopter operations, with their highly successful unmanned K-Max demonstrator being a big hit in Afghanistan. As such, it will be interesting to see where Lockheed takes its new helicopter business.
Sikorsky has made great products for the better part of a century, but the thick bankroll and deep resources that Lockheed has at its disposal may be the shot in the arm the company needs to accelerate innovation in key areas.
Still, it will be strange calling a Black Hawk a “Lockheed UH-60!”
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.