You Can Buy The State Department’s Totally Upgraded Sikorsky S-61T Helicopters That Is Barely Used
The State Department plans to sell its remaining fleet of these helicopters, 13 in total, via GSA within six months, according to the Department’s Press Relations Office.
The General Services Administration (GSA) is already auctioning off the first five S-61Ts – with the U.S. civil registration numbers N107WK, N122WU, N375WS, N575AW, and N898WC – each of which has a starting bid price of $500,000.
The State Department had agreed to purchase up to 110 S-61Ts when it signed its contract with Sikorsky in 2010. T
At the time, the deal, which was potentially worth up to $1.675 billion was seen a major win for the Connecticut-headquartered helicopter maker. The company hoped that the sales to the State Department would help promote the S-61T upgrade package to additional customers, as well.
The exact unit price that the State Department ultimately paid for each of the helicopters it acquired is unclear. Carson had previously upgraded a number of late-model Navy SH-3s with its composite blades and new avionics at a cost of around $3.5 million per chopper.
Whatever the case, the cost was undoubtedly significantly higher than the $500,000 starting bid in the current GSA auctions.
But for reasons that largely remain unclear, the State Department encountered significant delays in acquiring the S-61Ts. Whatever the exact issues were in acquiring the S-61Ts, by 2014, the State Department had still not taken delivery of a single one of the helicopters, though it had received 16 refurbished S-61Ns.
By the next year, the Air Wing had finally obtained 15 S-61Ts, but 10 of them were sitting idle in storage at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. Of the other five, two were flying Air Wing missions from Cyprus, while the other three were deployed in Iraq. To the best of our knowledge, none of them ever went to Afghanistan, though the S-61Ns did.
If you are interested in picking up any of the former State Department helicopters, you can place bids on any of the five on auction now through April 18, 2019.