The Sikorsky S-70i military helicopter–a new export variant of the UH-60M Black Hawk–made its first flight on July 1 from the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Assembled in Poland by PZL Mielec, the first S-70i (S/N 0001) arrived in West Palm Beach on May 4, after PZL Mielec completed final assembly in Poland on March 15. United Technologies (UTC) is the parent company of both Sikorsky and PZL Mielec, which UTC purchased in 2007.
The S-70i and the standard UH-60M Black Hawk are virtually identical aircraft, with their main differences related to items that are not exportable from the U.S.–mainly some avionics and radios–according to Debra Zampano, S-70i program manager, international programs. The S-70i’s performance numbers are anticipated to be similar to those of the UH-60M, which include max cruise speed, 151 knots and max range (no reserve), 276 nm.
Because the UH-60M and S-70i are so similar, only one aircraft is being used for the qualification flights. About 100 flight-test hours will be flown to meet the requirements of Sikorsky’s internal Quality Assurance Board. The second S-70i, which is the first production aircraft and is now under assembly at PZL Mielec, will begin production flight testing later this year in Poland.
Primary customer interest for the S-70i is coming from counties in the Middle East and Latin America, Zampano said. A baseline-configured S-70i will cost less than $13 million (2011 $), she said. Competing designs include the legacy Mil Mi-17 and Eurocopter EC532 helicopters and under-development AgustaWestland AW149.