Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, has kicked off its campaign marking the 40th anniversary of the Black Hawk helicopter, an iconic aircraft that is poised to continue to support military and search and rescue efforts around the world for decades to come with ongoing technology enhancements.
Sikorsky launched the #MyBlackHawkStory social media campaign and is encouraging anyone with a story to share about this aircraft, to do so through Twitter and Instagram, or the Lockheed Martin website. Following the campaign, which runs through October, Sikorsky will donate $5,000 to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that assists military families during difficult financial times. Sikorsky will conclude the 40th anniversary celebrations on Oct. 31, which marks the date of the first Black Hawk delivery to the U.S. Army in 1978.
Black Hawk By the Numbers
- More than 4,000 Black Hawk aircraft of all types are in service worldwide today, of which approximately 1,200 are H-60M models.
- The U.S. Army is the largest operator of Black Hawk aircraft with 2,135 H-60 designated aircraft.
- Thousands of Sikorsky employees in the U.S. and throughout the world support the Black Hawk program.
- The U.S. Army Black Hawk fleet has flown more than 10 million flight hours.
During the last 40 years, brave crews have flown the Black Hawk in and out of countless combat and disaster zones to deliver and extract troops, save lives in casualty evacuation missions, provide critical supplies to troops, deliver emergency supplies during natural disasters, and perform as aerial firefighters and border patrollers.
“Sikorsky is the company it is today because of the Black Hawk,” said Sikorsky President Dan Schultz. “This iconic aircraft continues to deliver on critical missions when reliability and performance are nonnegotiable. Sikorsky is proud to recognize the Black Hawk’s 40th anniversary and the men and women who serve with and are supported by this aircraft around the world every day.”
“We are committed to the U.S. Army – and all other H-60 operators – and look forward to continued partnerships on the Black Hawk program in the years to come,” added Dana Fiatarone, Vice President, Army and Air Force Systems, Sikorsky. “It is our priority to continue fulfilling current and future requirements in order to meet the needs of operational units both today and tomorrow.”
The Future of the Black Hawk
Sikorsky continues to build H-60M Black Hawk aircraft for the U.S. Army, which is expected to operate the platform into the 2070s. The company continues to modify the Black Hawk to meet the mission requirements of its customers and has produced several successful H-60 variants.
The MH-60R Seahawk is an UH-60-based maritime variant in operation and deployed by the U.S. Navy, as well as numerous international military customers. Its primary missions are anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare, while secondary missions include search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, communications relay, personnel transport, and medical evacuation.
Additionally, the U.S. Air Force currently operates the HH-60G Pavehawk combat rescue helicopter. In February of this year, Sikorsky began the final assembly process of the first HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) to replace this long-serving variant. The “Whiskey” model, which is expected to take its first flight by year-end, is based on the proven technology of the latest Black Hawk model, the UH-60M, an enhanced version of the former UH-60L model.
Sikorsky continues to field new mission capabilities for the Black Hawk:
* An aerial firefighting system, complete with belly tank, that can easily retrofit to existing S-70i fleets;
* A sophisticated weapons system for the S-70i™ and S-70M models that enables pilots to engage static or moving targets with high accuracy using forward firing guns, rockets and laser-designated air-to-ground missiles.
Sikorsky also is developing an optionally piloted capability utilizing its MATRIX™ Technology with the intelligence and autonomy to carry out missions with two, one or zero crew members on board. This technology is flying on the company’s commercial S-76® helicopter, the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA). Sikorsky expects first flight of the optionally piloted Black Hawk in 2018.
Fiatarone concluded, “Sikorsky continues to position the Black Hawk platform for future growth with technological advancements to improve overall reliability, survivability, lift capability, and availability of aircraft, enabling soldiers to successfully and safely complete their missions…and more importantly, return home, every time.”