The Royal Thai Army has signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for the purchase of two Sikorsky Aircraft-built UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters through the US Government's foreign military sales (FMS) programme.
Announced at the 2012 Farnborough International Airshow this week, the deal makes Thailand the first member in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to operate the latest Black Hawk variant, usually flown by the US Army.
Sikorsky Military Systems president Samir Mehta said: "More nations are increasingly discovering its multi-mission value, outstanding performance record, and durability even in the harshest and most hostile environments."
Powered by T700-GE-701D engines, the UH-60M Black Hawk is an upgraded variant of the company's UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and features improved rotor blades, advanced flight control and aircraft navigation control systems.
Additional features include an improved communications suite and full night-vision device capability for conducting night operations, as well as other enhancements to help reduce pilot workload, increase lift, and offer increased protection and survivability.
The upgrade programme was approved by the US Department of Defense (DoD) in 2001 to help extend the service life of the helicopter beyond 2020.
The Thai Army currently operates a fleet of 12 UH-60L (S-70A-43) Black Hawk helicopters for conducting tactical transport missions.
Thailand also became the first nation to acquire the naval MH-60S Black Hawk utility helicopter, dubbed ''Sierra'', in August 2011, which is operated by the Royal Thai Navy for utility operations, such as logistics and troop transport, with optional search and rescue missions.
Image: Two US Army's UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters conducting operations in Iraq. Photo: courtesy of PHC (AW/NAC) Edward G Martens.