Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company and the original equipment manufacturer of the multi-purpose utility Black Hawk helicopter, will provide retrofit and maintenance services for Saudi Arabia’s latest UH-60M fleet.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) revealed it had accepted $8.5m in Foreign Military Sale (FMS) funds from the Saudi Government on 9 November 2023. Services are expected to be complete by the 30 November 2026.

Sikorsky’s support will help to preserve the Royal Saudi Land Forces’ (RSLF) nine UH-60M units. In conjunction, the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) – another military service tasked with border and internal security – flies 25 UH-60M helicopters.

Additionally, the nation’s Army also uses other versions of the Black Hawk, including 8 UH-60As and 24 UH-60Ls.

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By GlobalData

The Black Hawk family provides air assault, general support, aeromedical evacuation, command and control, and special operations support to combat, stability and support operations. When the Saudi government originally purchased nine UH-60M helicopters in 2015, the US Defense Co-operation Security Agency (DSCA) said that the RSLF planned to use the fleet for search and rescue, disaster relief, humanitarian support, counter-terrorism, and combat operations.

UH-60M features and distinctions

According to the 2015 DSCA agreement, the RSLF’s UH-60M helicopters use the GE-701D engine. This provides greater cruising speed, rate of climb and internal load than the previous UH-60A and UH-60L versions.

However, it should be noted that the US Army, the primary Black Hawk customer, recently announced that it plans to integrate General Electric Aerospace’s T901 engine for its Black Hawk fleet, AH-64 Apache fleet as well as its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft programme, to which Sikorsky has previously submitted its Raider X helicopter prototype.

The T901 provides 50% more power and reduced life cycle costs, with fewer parts and a simpler design. The engine’s fuel efficiency improves a fleet’s range, loiter time and offers 25% better specific fuel consumption.

Moreover, the RSLF’s fleet integrates AN/AAR-57, Common Missile Warning Systems, which help protect against infrared missile threats, as well as M240H 7.62mm machine guns.

Vision 2030 commitments demand fleet maintenance

According to the Saudi Government’s Vision 2030 agenda, in which the nation commits to modernising the Armed Forces, there will at least a 20% increase in troop levels for the RSLF and SANG.

A capacity increase is needed to accommodate this personnel expansion too, which leads to another commitment to increase its fighter aircraft, helicopters, tanks, armoured vehicles, and other related weapons.

The RSLF has already experienced this expansion under a Co-operative Logistics Supply Support Agreement worth $500m (SR1.8bn).

As part of this agreement, the DoD delivers spares and parts for vehicles to the Kingdom, including its fleet of Abrams tanks, M-60 tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, Mine Resistance Ambush Protected vehicles, Light Armoured Vehicles, howitzers, among a diverse range of military equipment.