Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is a dual-engine general purpose helicopter. Built by Sikorsky Aircraft, the Black Hawk is one of the backbones of the US military helicopter fleet, and is the US Army’s main tactical transport helicopter. It is also used by the US Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force, and has been exported to the militaries of 23 different nations, including Australia, China and Brazil. It first flew in 1974, and entered service in 1979. Around 4,000 have been built, at an average cost of $21.3 million per unit. The Black Hawk is a combat regular, and has seen service in many conflicts of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The UH-60 was developed as Sikorsky’s entry to the US Army’s Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System initiative, a design competition launched with the intention of replacing the Army’s ageing fleet of UH-1 Iroquois utility helicopters. The new design was to be significantly more reliable, survivable and cost effective than the UH-1. Army selectors received initial designs for the UH-60 in 1972, with the Black Hawk selected as the winner of the contest in 1976 following a fly off of its YUH-60A prototype against the Boeing Vertol YUH-61.
Many different Black Hawk variants have been manufactured over the years. The first versions received by the US Army were purely transport helicopters, but medical, electronic warfare and export-only models have all been subsequently developed. There is even a gunship version, the MH-60L Direct Action Penetrator, which cannot carry troops but is armed with comporable weaponry to the US Army’s Apache attack helicopter, including an M230 chain gun, Hydra 70 rockets, and AGM-114 Hellfire air-surface missiles.
In its UH-60L configuration, the Black Hawk operates with a crew of four: two flight crew and two crew chiefs or gunners. Powered by two General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft engines, the aircraft can cruise at 150 knots, and has a combat range of 368 miles. Its service ceiling is 19,000 feet.