S-70i Black Hawk helicopter is the latest in the family of Black Hawk multi-mission aircraft. The helicopter is built by Poland-based Sikorsky Aircraft subsidiary PZL Mielec and is being offered for international military customers and government agencies.
The S-70i helicopter can be configured according to customer-specific missions, including troop transport and air assault, command and control, border patrol, search and rescue, cargo lift, and VIP transport.
The first helicopter successfully made its maiden flight in July 2010. PZL Mielec exhibited an S-70i Black Hawk helicopter equipped with a prototype of single-station external stores pylon at the MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition held in Poland in September 2019.
S-70i international orders and deliveries
PZL Mielec delivered the first three S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to an undisclosed launch customer in August 2011.
Sikorsky Aircraft signed a contract with the Brunei Ministry of Defence in December 2011 to supply 12 helicopters for the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAF). The contractual scope also includes the supply of spare parts, training, and ground support equipment, as well as an option for ten additional helicopters.
The first batch of four S-70i Black Hawk helicopters was delivered to Brunei in December 2013 and the RBAF currently operates all 12 helicopters.
Sikorsky delivered five S-70i Black Hawks to the Special Forces unit of the Colombian Army’s Air Assault Division in March 2013.
The Colombian Army placed an order with Sikorsky Aircraft for two additional helicopters fitted with helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (HTAWS) in April 2013. The deliveries were concluded by October 2013.
Chile placed orders for six helicopters for the Chilean Air Force in December 2016. The first three aircraft were delivered to Chile in 2018.
Sikorsky handed over an S-70i helicopter to Turkish defence electronics manufacturer Aselsan in March 2017 to carry out fitments in accordance with the requirements of the prototype unit for the Turkish Multi-role Helicopter Program (TUHP).
PZL Mielec handed over two S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to the Polish National Police in November 2018. An order for another helicopter was also placed in the same month.
The Ministry of National Defense Republic of Poland placed orders for four Sikorsky S-70i helicopters in January 2019 for the Polish Armed Forces. All four helicopters were delivered to the Polish Army in December 2019.
The Ministry of National Defense signed another contract to purchase four helicopters for Poland’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) in January 2019.
The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) inked a $241.4m contract with PZL Mielec in June 2019 to purchase 16 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF). The first tranche of six Black Hawks was delivered to the Philippines in December 2020. The PAF took the delivery of five more S-70i Black Hawk helicopters at the Clark Air Base in June 2021. The Philippine government ordered the grounding of its Black Hawk fleet after a crash involving an S-70i Black Hawk during a training exercise the same month. The crash killed at least six people.
S-70i Black Hawk helicopter design
The S-70i Black Hawk helicopter has a maximum gross weight of 9,979kg and can carry two crew members and up to 13 troops.
The reliable crash-worthy airframe design of the S-70i integrates a machined cabin structure and a single-piece cockpit assembly. The structure can resist small-arms fire and high-explosive projectiles. Entry and exit of the crew and troops are provided by two jettisonable cockpit doors and two sliding cargo doors respectively.
S-70i can be fitted with ballistic protection, an active vibration control system, medical equipment, wire strike protection, Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM) system, auxiliary fuel tanks, an external rescue hoist, rappelling equipment. and a cargo hook.
Cockpit and avionics
The glass cockpit of the S-70i features crash-worthy seats for pilot and co-pilot. The fully integrated digital cockpit is equipped with an advanced avionics suite incorporating four ten-inch
colour multifunctional displays (MFDs), a dual digital automatic flight control system and coupled flight director and flight management system (FMS).
The navigation and communication systems include a dual embedded GPS/INS system with digital map, two UHF/VHF AM/FM radios, automatic direction finder, VOR/ILS and three-station crew digital inter-communication system (ICS).
S-70i helicopter cabin and armament
S-70i’s cabin is equipped with multifunctional 300psi cabin flooring and internal sound-proofing panels. The flexible design of the cabin allows for quick modifications to meet the mission requirements. The seating can be removed to accommodate cargo and supplies. The spacious cabin offers an area of 8.1m².
The baseline helicopter comes with no standard armament fit out. The new-build helicopters or existing platforms can be integrated with Battlehawk system. The system encompasses machine guns, 70mm rocket launchers, air-to-ground laser missile system, helmet-mounted sight, external gun mounting system and external stores weapon system.
Engines and landing gear of Black Hawk helicopters
The helicopter is powered by two T700-GE701D turboshaft engines equipped with C controls.
Each engine develops a maximum power of 1,447kW. The twin-engine power plant drives the main rotor comprising of four composite-titanium blades.
The fuel system is composed of two crash-worthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, while the single-point service connection allows close circuit and pressure refuelling.
S-70i Black Hawk features a three-point dual OLEO landing gear with energy absorbing features.
The rugged landing gear allows the landing and take-off from virtually any unprepared terrain.
Performance of the multi-mission helicopter
The S-70i can fly at a maximum cruise speed of 277km/h and has a maximum range of 459km with no reserve. The AEO (All Engines Operating) service ceiling of the Black Hawk helicopter is 13,200ft.