The winner of the 1972U.S. Army’s Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition against the Boeing Vertol YUH-61 prototype, the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is a 4-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter that entered service with the U.S. Army in 1979. Today, over 2,000 variants of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter are in service with American armed forces—logging over 4 million flight hours. The Black Hawk has supported U.S. military forces in combat missions in Panama, Grenada, Kuwait, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia.
Flown by a crew of three (the pilot and copilot at the flight deck and one crew member in the cabin), the Black Hawk helicopter is the ideal aircraft to perform ground-hugging, nap-of-the-earth missions that evade enemy radar.
For its avionics system, the Black Hawk’s fly-by-wire glass cockpit is outfitted with a suite of four Rockwell Collins multifunctional displays, 4-axis fully-coupled autopilot, two CMC electronic flight management apparatuses, two Honeywell embedded GPS inertial (EGI) navigation systems, and Goodrich’s integrated vehicle health management system (IVHMS).
The body of the Black Hawk is engineered to receive enemy fire and most high-explosive, medium-caliber (up to 23mm) projectiles. The frame absorbs high-impact velocities. The fuel system is self-sealing to survive crashes. The landing gear and crew seats absorb energy and shock. Equipped with dual redundant hydraulic and electrical systems in case one is downed, the Black Hawk and its flight controls are ballistically hardened and ready to engage hostile forces.
In 2001, the U.S. Army commenced upgrading over 1,500 Black Hawks to the UH-60M standard. The first upgraded UH-60M Black Hawk was delivered to the Army in 2003. Featuring new wide-chord composite spar main rotor blades, reinforced fuselage, and superior infrared suppression, the UH-60M Black Hawk completed its inaugural flight in August 2008. By the year 2025, over 950 units of the upgraded variant are expected to be delivered. The UH-60M variant is a culmination of over three decades of real world experience, technological advancement, and improved performance, making it ready for tomorrow’s battlefield.
To engage enemies, the Black Hawk is outfitted with a launch platform for Lockheed Martin’s laser-guided Hellfire anti-armor missiles. Via the aircraft’s external stores support system (ESSS) which carries a 10,000-pound payload, the Black Hawk can house 16 Hellfire missiles and a variety of other rockets, cannons, and electronic countermeasures pods. The helicopter is window-mounted with 7.62mm or .50-caliber machine guns. It is also equipped with Goodrich’s AN/AVR-2B laser threat warning system.
The general characteristics of the UH-60M Black Hawk are as follows:
|Power Plant||Two General Electric T700-GE-701D turboshaft engines|
|Maximum Takeoff||3,988 shp (2,974 kw)|
|Maximum Gross Weight||22,000 lbs (9,979 kg)|
|Maximum Cruise Speed||151 kts (280 km/h)|
|Maximum Range – No Reserve||276 nm (511 km)|
|HIGE Ceiling||10,520 ft (3,206 m)|
|HOGE Ceiling||6,010 ft (1,831 m)|
|OEI Service Ceiling||6,500 ft (1,981 m)|
|AEO Service Ceiling||15,180 ft (4,626 m)|
|Cabin Length||12.6 ft (3.8 m)|
|Cabin Width||7.7 ft (2.3 m)|
|Cabin Height||4.5 ft (1.3 m)|
|Cabin Area||88 square feet (8.1 square meters)|
|Cabin Volume||396 cubic feet (11.2 cubic meters)|
|Baggage Volume||20 cubic feet (0.5 cubic meters)|