The Sikorsky Raider X, Lockheed Martin’s entry for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, seen at the 2022 AUSA conference floor. (Brendon Smith/Breaking Defense)

WASHINGTON — Connecticut lawmakers aren’t happy about a Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky plan to lay off about 400 employees as the rotorcraft company reels from the cancelation of the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn told Breaking Defense today.

The Army canceled the FARA program in February, arguing that the procurement of a bespoke reconnaissance helicopter was no longer the best path forward. However, Congress protected funding for FARA in the fiscal 2024 spending bill passed in March, so that that money could be used to safeguard engineering jobs at both Sikorsky and its competitor, Texas-based Bell, Courtney said following a House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing.

“The Connecticut delegation has questions about why, with that appropriation in hand, this happened,” he said, adding that both he and fellow Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the top Democrat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, will be seeking answers from Sikorsky and the Army. Courtney said he was notified about the job cuts on Tuesday night.

“When the FARA program was cancelled, we knew that the engineering team [at Sikorsky]  was the one that would be the most directly affected by it,” he said. The company will “need engineers to execute” new UH-60 Black Hawk modernization efforts that the Army hopes to begin in the wake of FARA’s cancellation.

A spokesperson for Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky confirmed that it would have to reduce positions in its Sikorsky business segment due to the FARA cancellation, but declined to detail the total number of positions eliminated, stating only that the layoffs amount to less than 1 percent of the total Lockheed workforce.

“We intend to retain as many roles as possible to meet national security commitments and preserve the U.S. rotary wing industrial base,” the spokesperson said.

The job cuts in Connecticut were first reported by CT Insider. Bell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

News about the job cuts comes a week before a major military rotorcraft conference hosted by the Army Aviation Association of America.

Army officials have argued that the cancelation of the multi-billion FARA program, reflects the technological leap made in drone technology, which they say are better suited for the reconnaissance mission than a piloted scout helicopter.

Courtney had previously raised concerns about how the FARA cancellation could impact local industry, particularly the roughly 600 Connecticut-based engineers working on Raider X, Sikorsky’s offering for the FARA program.