The US Army has taken delivery of the 500th UH-60M Black Hawk tactical transport helicopter from Sikorsky Aircraft at its facility in Stratford, Connecticut, US.
The latest delivery forms part of a five-year contract, awarded by the army in December 2007, for the production and supply of a total of 1,375 M models, including 956 UH-60Ms and 419 HH-60M aircraft, through to 2026.
Thomas Todd, US Army Utility Helicopters project manager colonel, said the UH-60M and HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters are performing extremely well in theatre and have frequently received positive comments from combat commanders.
''The platform receives very high marks for the situational awareness the system provides the crew. These comments are also common from the other services, agencies and countries that have purchased H-60M aircraft,'' Todd added.
The 500 H-60M models received to date by the army include 400 UH-60M utility and 100 HH-60M medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) aircraft, out of which 73 UH-60M Black Hawks were sold to six foreign customers through the US Government's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.
Sikorsky also signed a new $8.5bn five-year agreement with the US Department of Defense (DoD) earlier this month, to continue production of M models for the army and navy, with actual production quantities to be determined year-by-year during the life of the programme, based on funding allocations approved by Congress and Pentagon acquisition priorities.
The eighth multiyear procurement agreement also includes options, which, if exercised could potentially add an additional $1bn to $2bn to the contract.
Powered by two General Electric T700 turboshaft engines, the UH-60M Black Hawk is a four-bladed, medium-lift utility helicopter designed to support troop transport, Medevac capabilities, electronic warfare attacks and assault support, as well as search and rescue (SAR) missions.
The helicopters were deployed by the US for combat operations during conflicts in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and in the Middle East.
Image: US Army's UH-60M Black Hawks conducting an air assault mission in Iraq. Photo courtesy of: Ericsboxx.