Poland move could benefit Sikorsky

By:  Hugh Bailey
CT Post

In a boost for Connecticut’s largest manufacturer, Poland has restarted negotiations with Stratford-based Sikorsky for the sale of up to 70 Black Hawk helicopters, according to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who said he has been pushing for the move.

“I met with Polish Minister of Defense (Tomasz) Siemoniak last year and vigorously made the case that the U.S.-Poland relationship would be much stronger if Poland went with the higher-performing Black Hawk,” Murphy said in a statement.

Murphy, D-Conn., is a founder of the bipartisan U.S. Senate Caucus on Poland. The restarted negotiations follow Poland’s earlier decision to cancel a $3 billion deal to buy 50 helicopters from France-based Airbus.

Sikorsky maintains a significant workforce at two locations in Poland, which along with England is the only European country where it has offices. Last year, Sikorsky laid off about 500 workers in Poland, among 1,400 people worldwide who lost their jobs, including 180 in Connecticut.

The company has a total workforce of around 15,000 globally. The helicopter manufacturer was sold by its longtime parent United Technologies to Lockheed Martin last year in a $9.1 billion deal.

Murphy said Poland reopening negotiations could have a significant benefit for Sikorsky.

“I will follow these negotiations closely, and do everything I can to help Sikorsky in this process, because a new contract for 70 helicopters would mean billions of dollars in business for Sikorsky and more work for the skilled Stratford workers who have made the Black Hawk the international standard,” he said.
Sikorsky’s outlook has been hurt by the plunging price of oil, with concurrent decreases in demand for helicopters to service oil and gas platforms. Company officials last month forecast helicopter sales of about $375 million for 2016 after hitting $1.5 billion in 2014.