US State Department Approves Sale Of 40 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters To Australia

The Government of Australia has requested to buy forty (40) Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters; eighty-eight(88) T700-GE 701D engines (80 installed, 8 spares); forty-four (44) AN/AAR-57 Counter Missile Warning Systems (CMWS) (40 installed, 4 spares); and ninety-six (96) H-764U Embedded Global Position Systems with Inertial Navigation (EGI) and Country Unique SAASM (or future replacement) (80 installed, 16 spares).

The proposed sale will replace Australia’s current multi-role helicopter fleet with a more reliable and proven system that will allow Australia to maintain the appropriate level of readiness to conduct combined operations. The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter will improve the Australian Army’s ability to deploy combat power to share Australia’s strategic environment, deter actions against its interests, and, when required, respond with credible force. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, MD.

Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk Utility Helicopter

Also included are AN/ARC-231 RT-1808A SATCOM radios; APR-39C(V)1/4 Radar Warning Receivers; AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets; APX-123A Identification Friend or Foe Transponder; ARC-220 High Frequency (HF) radio with KY-100M; VRC-100 Ground Stations; AN/PYQ-10 Simple Key Loader (SKL); KIV-77 Common Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Applique Crypto Computers; AN/ARN-147(V) Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range(VOR)/Instrument Landing System (ILS) receiver radio;

AN/ARN-149(V) Low Frequency (LF)/Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) radio receiver; AN/ARN-153 Tactical Air Navigation System (TACAN) receiver transmitter: Encrypted Aircraft Wireless Intercommunications Systems (EAWIS); Improved Heads Up Display (IHUD); MX-10D EO/IR with Laser Designator; Ballistic Armor Protection Systems (BAPS); Internal Auxiliary Fuel Tank Systems (IAFTS); Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES); External Rescue Hoist (ERH); Rescue Hoist Equipment Sets; Dual Patient Litter System (DPLS) Sets training devices; helmets; transportation; organizational equipment; spare and repair parts.

Australian Army’s 6th Aviation Regiment Black Hawk Utility Helicopter. (Photo by CPL Dustin Anderson/Australian Government Department of Defence)

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-blade, twin-engine, medium-lift utility military helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Named after the Native American war leader Black Hawk, the UH-60A entered service with the U.S. Army in 1979, to replace the Bell UH-1 Iroquois as the Army’s tactical transport helicopter. The UH-60 features four-blade main and tail rotors, and is powered by two General Electric T700 turboshaft engines.

The main rotor is fully articulated and has elastomeric bearings in the rotor head. The helicopter has a long, low profile shape to meet the Army’s requirement for transporting aboard a C-130 Hercules, with some disassembly. It can carry 11 troops with equipment, lift 2,600 pounds (1,200 kg) of cargo internally or 9,000 pounds (4,100 kg) of cargo (for UH-60L/M) externally by sling. UH-60M Black Hawk is an improved design wide chord rotor blades, T700-GE-701D engines (max 2,000 shp or 1,500 kW each), improved durability gearbox, Integrated Vehicle Health Management System (IVHMS) computer, and new glass cockpit. Production began in 2006.

Australia ordered fourteen S-70A-9 Black Hawks in 1986 and an additional twenty-five Black Hawks in 1987. The first US produced Black Hawk was delivered in 1987 to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). de Havilland Australia produced thirty-eight Black Hawks under license from Sikorsky in Australia delivering the first in 1988 and the last in 1991.

In 1989, the RAAF’s fleet of Black Hawks was transferred to the Australian Army. The Black Hawks saw operational service in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor and Pakistan. In 2004, the government selected the Multi-Role Helicopter (MRH-90) Taipan, a variant of the NHIndustries NH90, to replace the Black Hawk even though the Department of Defence had recommended the S-70M Black Hawk.

On 10 December 2021, the S-70A-9 Black Hawks were retired from service. On the same day, amid issues with the performance of the MRH-90s the government announced that they would be replaced by up to 40 UH-60M Black Hawks. The government is yet to place an order. The Australian reported that is hoped that six UH-60Ms maybe delivered in 2023 with all deliveries completed by 2026.

US Army Joint Task Force-Bravo UH-60M Black Hawk Utility Helicopter. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Amber Carter/U.S. Air Force Joint Task Force-Bravo)

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