On Friday, Lockheed Martin unit Sikorsky delivered its 5,000th Hawk-variant helicopter, with the milestone aircraft being a U.S. Army UH-60M Black Hawk. The medium-lift UH-60 family of helicopters dates back to its first flight in 1974 and has been operational in customer fleets since 1978.
“Sikorsky, as a company, has been forged by the Black Hawk,” said president Paul Lemmo. More than 35 international customers operate the Black Hawk, which is built at the company's Stratford, Connecticut plant. The S-70 Black Hawk variant is manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s PZL Mielec facility in Poland. Black Hawk platform derivatives include the MH-60R/S for maritime operations, MH-60T for multi-missions, HH-60W rescue helicopter, and internationally built S-70 Black Hawk, including the baseline Firehawk.
The U.S. Army is the largest Black Hawk customer and plans to operate the helicopter for at least another 40 years, according to Col. Calvin Lane, the U.S. Army’s utility helicopter project manager for the Program Executive Office for Aviation.
“We are committed to all H-60 and S-70 operators and look forward to enduring partnerships on the Hawk program in the years to come,” said Nathalie Previte, Sikorsky's v-p of Army and Air Force Systems. Recent modernization efforts designed to improve Black Hawk availability and reliability and lower direct operating costs include modular open systems, an improved turbine engine, advanced digital vehicle management systems supporting degraded visual environment and automated operations, and digital tools with predictive analytics that reduce downtime and maintenance costs.
In February 2022, Lockheed Martin flew its first uninhabited, optionally piloted UH-60A/S-70 Black Hawk testbed equipped with Sikorsky’s Matrix autonomy technology in collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Later flights at the U.S. Army's Project Convergence 2022 demonstrated future utility missions for the platform.