Gov. Lamont touts $75 million Sikorsky deal to land next-generation Army contracts
Gov. Ned Lamont signed a $75 million tax incentive package Monday that could help Sikorsky land two critical Army helicopter contracts – and keep thousands of high-paying jobs in Connecticut for a generation.
"These are two very important programs for the future of Army aviation," said Sikorsky president Paul Lemmo. "And we certainly believe that we have the best offering."
Sikorsky is competing to replace the Black Hawk chopper, the Army's workhorse dating back to the 1970s. Sikorsky and Boeing are pitching the Defiant X. Although physically similar to the Black Hawk, Sikorsky says Defiant is twice as fast and can travel twice as far.
Sikorsky's only competitor is Texas-based Bell Textron. Its proposed replacement is the V-280 Valor, a radical departure from the Black Hawk. Its rotors can tilt forward, similar to a V-22 Osprey but lighter.
Sikorsky says the new tax incentives strengthens its bid because the company can make the chopper cheaper.
"They're competing with another company, and the other company's down there in Texas, and the other company may be getting some tax breaks," said Lamont.
The Army plans to pick its Black Hawk replacement this fall.
If Sikorsky wins the contract, it will receive $50 million in state tax credits. In return, the company must build the Defiant X in the Stratford area, keep nearly 7,400 full-time jobs in Connecticut, and spend at least $300 million a year on in-state suppliers.
Sikorsky will receive an extra $25 million in incentives if it wins another contract for the next generation of Army scout choppers in 2024.
"I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that Sikorsky wins that competition," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut).
The incentive package passed the General Assembly with wide bipartisan support in April. Members of both parties were present at Monday's signing ceremony.
This isn't the first major tax break for Sikorsky. Shortly after Lockheed Martin purchased the company in 2015, it received $220 million in incentives and grants to keep its headquarters and manufacturing in Connecticut. Sikorsky also agreed to build the massive new CH-53K "King Stallion" chopper here. The company delivered the first one last fall.
Lamont says the deal is critical to keeping Sikorsky viable – and keeping its 242 in-state suppliers in business.
"I want Sikorsky to win," he said. "When they win, we win."