Several senior Army National Guard (ARNG) Aviation Officers visited the Huntsville, Al. International Airport on July 13 for a flight demonstration and informational update on the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter program in preparation for the aircraft becoming part of the ARNG fleet.
The UH-60 Victor is a retrofit of the UH-60 Lima model, including many updates, most notably a modernized glass cockpit similar to that found in the UH-60M.
The upgraded cockpit of the UH-60V increases a pilot’s situational awareness while reducing the pilot work load, resulting in a more capable and safer aviation platform. The upgraded helicopter is the first Army aircraft to implement open architecture, a critical element of the Future Vertical Lift Ecosystem.
By re-capitalizing the current legacy fleet, the Army will be able to deliver the UH-60V with UH-60M like capabilities for significantly less than the price of a new aircraft. Additionally, the commonality between the two is nearly identical, which reduces training cost. H-60M qualified pilots will only require a unit-level transition to fly the 60V.
The program reduces avionics obsolescence and upgrades navigation systems to meet future Global Air Traffic Management instrument flight rule requirements.
The first flight of the fully-upgraded UH-60V Black Hawk took place in September 2020, with the program completing the first initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) a year before. However, a second increment of the IOT&E has been delayed from 3QFY20 to 3QFY21 due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and software reliability issues. Additionally, the Program Office is experiencing delays in their instrument flight rules certification process, which is required to test a production-representative test article.
The Victor will begin fielding to the Eastern Area ARNG Aviation Training Site, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania beginning the last week of July, with the EAATS becoming the first unit equipped with the helicopters.
The Army plans to convert 760 legacy UH-60L Black Hawks to the modernized UH-60V and they will remain part of the Black Hawk enduring fleet well into the future.