Medium-lift multi-mission helicopter
UH-60M is the latest variant in the Black Hawk family of helicopters. UH-60 Black Hawk is a multi-mission helicopter developed by Sikorsky that has been operational in the US Army since 1978. The export version of the UH-60 Black Hawk is designated as S-70A.
More than 2,000 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter variants are in service with the US, and more than 600 have been exported.
Variants of the Black Hawk are operational or have been ordered by 29 international customers, namely the Argentine Air Force, Royal Australian Army, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Colombian Air Force, Egypt, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan Self Defence Force, Jordan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, People’s Republic of China, Royal Saudi Land Forces Army Aviation Command, the Turkish Jandarma, Spain, The Philippine Air Force, Taiwan, Thailand, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Tunisia.
Black Hawk helicopters have logged over four million flying hours, including a diverse range of combat missions in Grenada, Panama, in the liberation of Kuwait, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and numerous humanitarian and rescue missions including operations in Bosnia.
The Black Hawk helicopters are manufactured at the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation production facilities based in Stratford, Connecticut, USA. Licensed production of Black Hawk helicopters is also carried out in Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The primary mission of the Black Hawk helicopter is as a troop carrier and logistical support aircraft, but the helicopter can also be configured to carry out medical evacuation, command-and-control, search-and-rescue, armed escort, electronic warfare and executive transport missions.
Black Hawk has low detectability and outstanding nap-of-the-earth flight capabilities. The aircraft is tolerant to small arms fire and most high-explosive, medium-calibre (23mm) projectiles. The flight controls are ballistically hardened and the helicopter is equipped with redundant electric and hydraulic systems.
The helicopter has the ability to absorb high-impact velocities. The on-board fuel system is crash-resistant and self-sealing. The crew seats and the landing gear are energy absorbing.
The US Army approved an upgrade programme for more than 1,500 Black Hawks to UH-60M standard in April 2001. The first flight of the UH60M took place in September 2003 and three helicopters have been delivered for the test programme.
The US Army initially decided to opt for new build helicopters rather than upgrade existing airframes.
The new-build helicopter entered low-rate initial production (LRIP) in April 2005. The first of 22 new UH-60Ms was delivered in July 2006. Initial operational evaluation (OPEVAL) was successful and a decision on full-rate production of 1,227 helicopters was authorised in December 2007 with the award of a five-year contract. Under this contract, six UH-60M utility and 20 HH-60M combat rescue helicopters were ordered in March 2008.
In December 2007, the US Army ordered 11 low-rate initial production (LRIP) upgrade UH60M. The UH-60M upgrade completed its maiden flight in August 2008. More than 950 aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by 2025. The UH-60M features new wide chord composite spar main rotor blades (which provide 500lb more lift than the current UH-60L blade), strengthened fuselage and advanced infrared suppression.
The fly-by-wire glass cockpit has a digitised 1553 bus-based avionics suite with four Rockwell Collins multi-function displays, four-axis fully-coupled autopilot, two Canadian Marconi (CMC) electronic flight management systems, dual Honeywell embedded GPS inertial (EGI) navigation system, digital moving map and Goodrich integrated vehicle health management system (IHVMS).
The new General Electric T700-GE-701D engine (with full authority digital electronic control) is more powerful and provides additional lift during sling load operations.
The S-70A Black Hawk helicopter is flown by a crew of three: the pilot and the copilot at the flight deck and one crew member in the cabin. The S-70A helicopter is equipped with a glass cockpit and digital avionics.
In addition, S-70 customers may select a digital automated flight computer system (AFCS) to simplify pilot workload. An electronic flight information system (EFIS) provides primary pilotage and navigation displays for the aircrew.
The S-70 is qualified as a launch platform for the laser-guided Hellfire anti-armour missile. The Black Hawk can carry 16 Hellfire missiles using the external stores support system (ESSS). The ESSS has the capability of carrying a 10,000lb payload of missiles, rockets, cannons and electronic countermeasures pods. The helicopter can also accommodate additional missiles, supplies or personnel inside the cabin.
The S-70 can mount 7.62mm or .50-calibre machine guns in the windows.
US Army Black Hawks are fitted with the Goodrich AN/AVR-2B laser threat warning system.
The cabin provides accommodation for 11 fully equipped troops or four litters (stretcher patients) with a medical officer for medical evacuation missions. It is equipped with a ventilation and heating system.
The S-70A can carry external loads up to 9,000lb (4,072kg) on the cargo hook, for example, a 155mm howitzer. The main cabin can be cleared of troop seats for transportation of cargo. Additional stores can be carried on the external stores support system.
The S-70A is equipped with a voice and data communications suite including VHF, UHF communications, an identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder, secure voice communications, satellite communications and an intercom system.
The S-70A is equipped with two General Electric turboshaft engines, type T700-GE-701C. US Army Blackhawks are being fitted with the latest version, the 701D, which is rated at 2,000shp.
The internal fuel tanks have a capacity of 1,360l. Auxiliary fuel can be carried with 1,400l in two internal fuel tanks and 1,740l externally.
Saudi Arabia requested 24 UH-60L helicopters in July 2006, while Columbia ordered 15 UH-60L helicopters in June 2007. Bahrain became the first international customer for the UH-60M in June 2007, with an order for nine helicopters for the Royal Bahraini Air Force. In the same month, Brazil requested the FMS of six UH-60L helicopters. In November 2007, the UAE placed an order for ten S-70A helicopters.
In September 2008, Egypt requested the sale of four UH-60M helicopters and UAE requested 14 UH-60M helicopters. In January 2010, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress about a possible FMS of 60 UH-60M helicopters to Taiwan.
In September 2010, the Swedish Defence Material Administration requested the sale of 15 UH-60M helicopters through the US Government’s foreign military sales programme. The first aircraft was delivered to the US Army in September 2011 and another seven by December 2011. The final two helicopters will be delivered by end of September 2012.
Thailand requested a sale of three UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters in July 2011 and signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for two UH-60Ms in July 2012. In December 2011, Sikorsky and Brunei Ministry of Defence signed a contract for 12 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters manufactured by Sikorsky’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec. The contract also includes an option for ten additional aircraft.
In June 2012, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress about a possible FMS of 12 UH-60M helicopters to Qatar.
In July 2012, the US Army and Navy placed an $8.5bn contract with Sikorsky for 653 Black Hawk and Sea Hawk helicopters by December 2017. The five-year contract also includes an option to acquire 263 additional aircraft.
Sikorsky signed a letter of intent with Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze NR 1 in September 2012 in response to the Polish Government’s decision to acquire 26 S-70i aircraft for the Polish Armed Forces. The government is expected to float a tender for this purpose towards the end of 2012, with final contract award in late 2013. Sikorsky plans to offer S-70i aircraft built in Poland under the contract.
In June 2017, Sikorsky was awarded a five-year $3.8bn contract to supply 257 UH-60M Black Hawk/HH-60M MEDEVAC helicopters with options for additional 103 helicopters to the US Army and allies through 2022.
A foreign military sale of four UH-60M helicopters to Latvia was approved by the US Government in August 2018.
Tunisia took delivery of eight UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters with a case value of more than $338m in November 2018.
The US Government approved a foreign military sale of two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Croatia at $115m in October 2019.
Lithuania announced its decision to purchase UH-60M Black Hawks in October 2019.
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