Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., and the U.S. Army today celebrated the delivery of the 500th H-60M BLACK HAWK helicopter. The deliveries to date comprise 400 UH-60M utility and 100 HH-60M MEDEVAC aircraft, the latter used exclusively as an air ambulance by the U.S. Army to rush wounded soldiers to field hospitals. Also included in the 500 are 73 UH-60M aircraft sold by the Army to six foreign militaries via the U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Sales program.
“I speak for more than 17,000 Sikorsky employees — many of us service veterans — when I say we are truly honored to build a modern combat-proven helicopter that men and women in uniform around the world can count on to perform their critical multi-role missions,” said Sikorsky President Mick Maurer during remarks spoken a short distance from the BLACK HAWK helicopter production line.
The need for an all-new ‘M’ BLACK HAWK platform emerged during the late 1990s with the requirement to upgrade the analog UH-60A and UH-60L aircraft with a integrated digital cockpit, dual digital flight controls, wide-chord rotor blades, more powerful engines and structural enhancements. The resulting ‘M’ model saw measurable improvements to aircraft control, survivability, lift, range, navigation and situational awareness, engine durability and maintenance costs.
Sikorsky delivered the first production UH-60M, affectionately called the Mike model, helicopter in December 2007, preceded by 31 low rate initial production aircraft from 2005-2007. The first production HH-60M MEDEVAC, outfitted with a dedicated clinical cabin followed in August 2008. The aircraft have accumulated a combined 200,000 flight hours to date.
According to Colonel Thomas Todd, the U.S. Army’s Utility Helicopters Project Manager: “The UH-60M and HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters are performing extremely well in theater, and I receive positive comments from our combat commanders frequently. The platform receives very high marks for the situational awareness the system provides the crew. These comments are also common from the other services, agencies and countries that have purchased H-60M aircraft. Accordingly, this 500th roll out of the H-60M underscores that the U.S. Army's Utility Helicopters Project Office and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation continue to provide our Soldiers with quality equipment in a timely and cost efficient manner."
The 500 H-60M aircraft are part of a planned production run of 1,375 ‘M’ models (956 UH-60M and 419 HH-60M aircraft) the Army plans to order through 2026. By then, the Army’s total BLACK HAWK fleet, including upgraded UH-60A and UH-60L aircraft, is expected to reach more than 2,100 aircraft.
The Army purchased the majority of the 500 H-60M helicopters as part of a five-year agreement that ended this month. Sikorsky will continue to build Mike models as part of a new five-year contract (Multi-Year 8) valued at $8.5 billion, which Sikorsky and the U.S. Army and Navy signed on July 6, 2012. Actual production quantities will be determined year-by-year over the life of the program based on funding allocations set by Congress and Pentagon acquisition priorities.
To meet Multi-Year 8 requirements, Sikorsky will deliver a baseline quantity of 234 UH-60M and 120 HH-60M BLACK HAWK aircraft for U.S. Army use and additional aircraft for Foreign Military Sales. The contract also includes 193 MH-60 SEAHAWK helicopters for the U.S. Navy, as well as MH-60R SEAHAWK aircraft for the Foreign Military Sales program.