PZL Mielec has unveiled a single-station external stores pylon for the S-70i armed helicopter of the Black Hawk multi-mission aircraft family.

The single-station external stores pylon was presented at the MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition in Kielce, Poland.

PZL Mielec is positioning the pylon as a lightweight, cheap alternative to the existing dual-station external wings. It is claimed that the pylon costs and weighs around a quarter of a dual-station wing.

The single-station pylon will be able to carry fuel, forward-firing guns, rockets and air-to-ground missiles, allowing Black Hawk pilot gunners to support battlefield operations.

PZL Mielec president and general director Janusz Zakręcki said: “We’re developing the single-station pylon in response to requests by militaries across Europe, Latin America and Asia for a battlefield support helicopter that can be armed for different types of missions that may not always need four weapons stations.

“Operators can arm the aircraft for suppressive fire, surveillance, armed reconnaissance, armed escort and air assault missions, and still carry out other utility roles whenever pylons and stores must remain on the aircraft.”

The time taken to remove or attach a pylon is about 15 minutes.

The single-station external stores pylon is designed to produce less drag during flight.

Window or door gunners will stand to benefit from the lightweight system as it will provide a wider field of fire.

To enhance the armed capability of the Black Hawk, the pylon will carry Lockheed Martin’s AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missile, or Israeli Spike air-to-ground missile launchers.

Additionally, the PZL Mielec-designed pylon will feature an 80gal external fuel tank to support an extended operational range of the Black Hawk multi-mission aircraft.

The pylon will be compatible with and can be easily integrated into the aircraft’s weapons management system, PZL Mielec said.

According to PZL Mielec’s parent company Lockheed Martin, the prototype pylon design will undergo airworthiness flight testing next year.