The Colombian army formally inducted into its fleet five new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters. Colombia is the first South American country to acquire the S-70i variant, which is assembled at Sikorsky’s PZL Mielec facility in Poland.
Sikorsky said the helicopters were custom-equipped in the U.S. for the special forces of the Colombian army’s air assault division. They join a national fleet of 96 UH-60L Black Hawks operated by the Colombian National Police, army and air force. Colombia operates the world’s fourth-largest Black Hawk fleet.
The S-70i export variant of the UH-60M made its first flight on July 1, 2010, from the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. In addition to the Colombian helicopters, five aircraft have been delivered to the Saudi Ministry of the Interior and one to the Mexican state of Jalisco. The Brunei ministry of defense has ordered 12 S-70is for the Royal Brunei Air Force.
Colombian pilots and maintainers flew the helicopters 4,334 miles from Connecticut to the Tolemaida air base in central Colombia, arriving on January 30 following 10 days of flying. The army accepted the aircraft during a February 11 ceremony in Tolemaida attended by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon Bueno.
Sikorsky announced the delivery on March 21.