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US Army exercises option for additional 38 Black Hawks

UH-60M Black Hawk
US National Air Guard photo of a UH-60M Black Hawk

The US Army has awarded Sikorsky Aircraft a $525.4 million contract modification, exercising an option for the acquisition of an additional 38 UH-60M Black Hawks.

The contract modification also includes two foreign military sales (FMS) Black Hawk helicopters.

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is expected to complete work under the contract by June 2022.

Now in its fourth decade of service, the Black Hawk was developed as a result of the Army’s requirement in 1972 for a simple, robust and reliable utility helicopter system to satisfy projected air-mobile requirements around the globe.

Named after the Native American war chief and leader of the Sauk tribe in the Midwest, Black Hawk, the first production UH-60A was accepted by the Army in 1978, and entered service in 1979 when it was delivered to aviation components of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. Since that time, the Black Hawk has accumulated more than nine million total fleet hours, and has supported Soldiers in every major contingency operation the Army has executed, including Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East.

Over the years, the helicopter has been modified and upgraded to support evolving missions and roles, including mine laying, medical evacuation and special operations. Today, the Army continues to integrate emerging technology enhancements into the Black Hawk fleet to increase the performance, reliability, availability and maintainability of the platform through addition of technologies such as the integration of the Improved Turbine Engine; upgrades to the airframe, including an improved troop seat for additional crash worthiness; and a lightweight, composite all-moving tail.

The UH-60 Black Hawk makes up the Army’s largest rotary wing fleet with more than 2100 airframes in the current inventory. As production of the most current H-60M model continues, over the coming years the Army will divest its remaining UH-60A and L aircraft, to be replaced by 760 UH-60Vs.

With multiple versions of the H-60 Black Hawk in service, the helicopter is considered the “workhorse” of Army Aviation. Besides being the US Army’s primary tactical transport helicopter, approximately 1,200 H-60s operate in 30 partner and allied nations.