Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Black Hawk Variant on the Horizon

New Black Hawk Variant on the Horizon

The Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk program recently hit a key milestone when a
prototype of the V-variant successfully completed its first test flight. The
project is an effort to enhance the service’s aviation fleet without breaking
the budget for modernization.

The Black Hawk helicopter transports troops
and equipment into battle. It also supports other logistics activities and
medical evacuation.

The aircraft gained fame in popular culture when it
was featured in the film Black Hawk Down about the 1993 Battle for Mogadishu in
Somalia. It was back in the spotlight in 2011 after a modified, stealthy version
of the platform carried Navy SEALs to Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan
where they killed the al-Qaida leader.

But many of the Army’s Black Hawks
are outdated and aging, and the service is looking to modernize its

The first UH-60A was built in the 1970s, with the follow-on
L-variant coming online in the 1980s.

“The Lima cockpit largely has not
changed since that time,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Duus, H-60 product manager at
Army program executive office aviation. “There have been upgrades to radios and
to the GPS of course, but the primary instrumentation … has pretty much remained

The UH-60V program looks to transform the UH-60L into a more
capable platform by installing a digital cockpit.

“What we’re doing is
taking out the old cockpit, all the analog gauges, and we’re replacing them with
state-of-the-art multifunction … displays and all of the computing hardware to
go along with that,” Duus said.

The upgrades will provide operational
advantages for aviators, he said.