Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky has successfully delivered the 5,000th “Hawk” variant helicopter, a UH-60M Black Hawk for the US Army.
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Customers worldwide, including Australia, depend on the Black Hawk platform and its derivatives, including MH-60R/S maritime operations helicopters, MH-60T multi-mission helicopters, HH-60W rescue helicopters, and internationally built S-70 Black Hawks to include the baseline FIREHAWK, which have all proven their versatility and capability across a spectrum of challenging mission sets.
Sikorsky president Paul Lemmo celebrated the impact the Black Hawk design has played in shaping the company, stating, “Sikorsky, as a company, has been forged by the Black Hawk. The Black Hawk and its variants deliver when reliability and performance are non-negotiable. Hawk aircraft continue to demonstrate their versatility and readiness with the latest technological advancements and ongoing US and global investment in the aircraft.”
The Sikorsky workforce manufactures the latest generation of Hawk aircraft built in Stratford, and there is high international demand for the Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk, manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s PZL Mielec facility in Poland.
Currently, more than 35 international customers operate the Black Hawk thanks to its global support network and continued modernisation. The US Army, the largest Black Hawk operator, noted the key role the aircraft continues to fulfil during military and civil operations around the world, in addition to its significant contribution towards Joint All Domain Operations.
Colonel Calvin Lane, the utility helicopter project manager for the Program Executive Office Aviation, explained the importance of the Black Hawk for the US Army since its introduction to service four decades ago, saying, “For more than 40 years, the Black Hawk has remarkably supported soldiers in every major contingency operation the Army has executed.”
COL Lane expanded on these comments, stating, “Even though the helicopter has been around longer than most of the soldiers it now supports, the Army plans for it to be in frontline service another 40 years and beyond. And everyone who contributes to the delivery of this aircraft in any way, contributes directly to providing combat capability that protects soldiers and helps the Army accomplish its mission.”
While the introduction of the US military’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) is expected to be fielded in the coming decades, the Black Hawk family will continue to remain the foundational tactical air assault and utility aircraft for the US Army — accordingly, both the US Army and Sikorsky have identified a number of modernisation effort to improve Black Hawk availability and reliability by lowering direct operating costs, including:
- A Modular Open Systems Approach allowing rapid integration of emerging technologies to maintain relevance in future operations by increasing reach, survivability, lethality and sustainment.
- Improved turbine engine to increase lift capability and range.
- Advanced Digital Vehicle Management Systems supporting degraded visual environment and automated operations.
- Digital tools including predictive analytics that reduce aircraft downtime and maintenance costs.
Nathalie Previte, vice president of army and air force systems at Sikorsky, reinforced the company’s focus on modernising the Black Hawk air frame and family, stating, “We are committed to all H-60 and S-70 operators and look forward to enduring partnerships on the Hawk program in the years to come. It remains our priority to fulfill our customers’ requirements and meet the needs of current and future operational units. With unmatched versatility and global interoperability, Hawk aircraft continue to advance 21st century security.”
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 114,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.