Sikorsky has reached an impressive milestone of 5,000 “Hawk” helicopters delivered. The versatile rotorcraft has been in service since 1979, when it was delivered to the US Army as a replacement for Bell’s famous UH-1 Iroquois.
Not by chance, the 5,000th helicopter is a UH-60M Black Hawk, also delivered to the US Army, in a ceremony held on January 20.
“Sikorsky, as a company, has been forged by the Black Hawk,” said Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo. “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 U.S. and global investment in the aircraft.”
Although it was developed to provide the Army with a more capable and versatile aircraft than the UH-1, the Black Hawk eventually became an export success, serving in 35 other nations, including China.
Versions for varied missions such as VIP transport, special operations, search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare have emerged over the years, proving its ability to adapt to new tasks. This also includes civilian customers of the S-70 version.
The Black Hawk is produced in Stratford, USA, but also in Poland, by PZL Mielec, which belongs to Lockheed Martin.
Although the US Army chose the Bell V-280 Valor to be its new helicopter in the Future Vertical Lift program, defeating Sikorsky’s Defiant X, it is agreed that the H-60 Black Hawk will remain active for many years to come.
A modernization program has been applied to the helicopter and includes an open systems architecture, improvement of the T700 engines, advanced digital management systems that reduce downtime, among others.
Even an autonomous variant of the Black Hawk is being developed in the OPV (optionally-piloted vehicle) program, in partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
“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,” added Nathalie Previte, vice president of Army and Air Force Systems at Sikorsky. “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.”