WASHINGTON — The Air Force awarded a lucrative contract Thursday for search and rescue combat helicopters to a team led by aerospace giant Boeing Co.
Chicago-based Boeing beat out rival Lockheed Martin Corp. and helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft for the contract to build 141 helicopters by 2019 for the Air Force’s fleet of rescue aircraft, known as the Combat Search and Rescue program.
The initial contract award is for $712 million; the program may be worth as much as $13 billion.
The helicopters will be built at Boeing’s plant in Ridley Park, Pa., near Philadelphia. About 200 new engineering jobs will be created initially, with more jobs expected as production moves forward. There are currently about 4,800 employees in Ridley Park, Boeing spokesman Joseph LaMarca Jr. said.
The decision to award the contract to Boeing is the latest blow to Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies Co., which sought to replace its own Pave Hawk helicopters that the Air Force has flown since 1982 on rescue missions.