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Parker Aerospace Selected For Helicopter Development

Parker Aerospace in Irvine will be playing a key role in a Sikorsky-Boeing team effort to win the prized contract for a new U.S. Army helicopter called Defiant X.

The Sikorsky-Boeing team has selected multiple Parker technologies for its entry in the competition for the award to build the what is called a “Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft,” one which is expected to eventually replace the Army’s aging Black Hawk helicopters.

The agreement with Parker Aerospace covers hydraulics and flight controls.

Financial terms of the partnership were not released.

The Army will choose a winner—after a faceoff between Textron’s Bell and the Sikorsky-Boeing team—later this year, according to DefenseNews.com.

Parker has offices and manufacturing sites in Irvine and foresees major advantages for the local aerospace division if the Sikorsky-Boeing team wins the contract. Sikorsky is a Lockheed Martin company.

1,200 in OC 

Parker Aerospace currently has nearly 1,200 employees in OC, and was No. 6 on the Business Journal’s 2021 ranking of the largest aerospace and defense contractors in Orange County by headcount.

Irvine is home to the company’s Military Flight Controls Division, Fluid Systems Division and Customer Service Operations units.

Parker Aerospace is a business unit of Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin Corp. (NYSE: PH), which was valued around $36 billion as of last week.

Black Hawk, Apache

The innovations in the contract with the Sikorsky-Boeing team include a hydraulic pump system that features lighter weight and less heat rejection, resulting in lower life cycle costs for the U.S. Army.

Overall, the contract covers in technical terms “main hydraulic pumps, auxiliary pumps, flight control modules, main rotor servoactuators, and the hydraulic tail actuation system.”

“We have a proud history of supporting Sikorsky, Boeing and the U.S. Army on our long-running Black Hawk and Apache helicopter programs, with products assembled in our Irvine” facility, Steve O’Connor, general manager of Parker Aerospace Military Flight Controls Division, told the Business Journal on April 4.

He added: “This is a chance for us to combine our latest technology with the historical robustness of our flight control actuation products for the benefit of the U.S. military, and look forward to the future of the Defiant X program.”

O’Connor is based in Irvine.

Parker Aerospace has seven divisions in 44 facilities in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The company specializes in a wide array of aircraft research, design and manufacturing, including flight controls, hydraulic systems, fuel, fluid conveyance, ducting, exhaust air management, and lubrication.

Its products are used on aircraft manufactured around the world, including commercial transports, military transports and fixed-wing aircraft, regional and business aircraft, general aviation, helicopters, missiles, and drones.

Ukraine Work?

Orange County counts a wide variety of aerospace companies with operations here, including Boeing, Raytheon and Panasonic Avionics Corp. and fast-growing Anduril Industries.

Anduril’s products include helicopter-like drones for military use.

Tech industry website Wired.com quoted Anduril founder Palmer Luckey on March 16 as saying that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky reached out to him “way ahead of most world leaders” years ago and said he last saw him two years ago.

When Wired then asked Luckey if he and his company were “involved in the war,” Luckey was quoted as saying: “I can’t say one way or the other. I will say we’ve designed our technology to be specifically relevant to exactly these challenges.” 

Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal
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