H-60 Black Hawk
The Black Hawk is the Army's front-line utility helicopter used for air assault, air cavalry, and aeromedical evacuation units. It is designed to carry 11 combat-loaded, air assault troops, and it is capable of moving a 105-millimeter howitzer and 30 rounds of ammunition. First deployed in 1978, the Black Hawk's advanced technology makes it easy to maintain in the field. The Black Hawk has performed admirably in a variety of missions, including air assault, air cavalry and aeromedical evacuations. In addition, modified Black Hawks operate as command and control, electronic warfare, and special operations platforms.
The Black Hawk is a light transport helicopter that performs many missions in the Army. The Black Hawk is the primary helicopter for air assault, air cavalry, and aeromedical evacuation units. Modified Black Hawks also fulfill command and control, electronic warfare, and special operations roles. The Black Hawk has enhanced the overall mobility of the Army because of its dramatic improvements in troop capacity and cargo lift capability compared to the UH-1 "Huey" it replaces. Now, an entire 11-man, fully equipped infantry squad can be lifted in one Black Hawk, and the troops can be transported faster and in most weather conditions. The Black Hawk also is the first utility and assault helicopter that adds to the Army's division-level mobility. For example, it can reposition a 105mm howitzer, its crew of six, and up to 30 rounds of ammunition in a single lift.
The UH-60 was made to fly soldiers into combat. BLACK HAWK has built-in tolerance to small arms fire and most medium-caliber high-explosive projectiles. The aircraft's critical components and systems are armored or redundant to enable it to withstand multiple small arms hits, and its airframe is designed to progressively crush on impact to protect the crew and passengers in a crash. Specifically designed airframe and landing gear features provide a high degree of battlefield survivability.
The Black Hawk first went into combat in the invasion of Grenada in October 1983. It has since served with distinction in Panama Southwest Asia, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and elsewhere. UH-60s are also used by U.S. Customs to apprehend drug smugglers. More than 20 nations fly the Black hawks and derivatives. Licensed production is underway in Japan, and coproduction is taking place in the Republic of Korea.
As of early 2002 the US Army had 904 UH-60A's, 539 UH-60L's and 97 "other" UH-60 variants fielded. Maintaining and sustaining this fleet is a major undertaking. With 38% of the UH-60 fleet over 20 years old in FY06 the M model fielding will begin. As a part of the M model fielding a UH-60A to UH-60A recapitalization program will be implemented on a summarized strategic schedule. The top 40 DLR items will be replaced during this recapitalization. The goal is to restore the UH-60A's to new or between the 1st scheduled service. 100% of the aircraft will be evaluated but the engines, transmissions and blades will be replaced during the restoration. This recapitalization program will improve cost and have other life span benefits and improvements.
BLACK HAWK provides the platform for a wide range of derivatives, including EH-60A electronic warfare aircraft, MH-60K Special Operations aircraft, the VH-60 executive transport helicopter, the U.S. Air Force's HH-60G PAVE HAWK, the U.S. Navy's SEAHAWK family of helicopters and the U.S. Coast Guard's HH-60J JAYHAWK for search and rescue. The unit cost varies with the version. For example, the unit cost of the Army's UH-60L Black Hawk is $5.9 million while the unit cost of the Air Force MH-60G Pave Hawk is $10.2 million.
In mid-2001 Flight operations of UH-60 Blackhawks were put on hold for flight due to faulty blade pins. Aviation Material Command, the Army's authority on all aircraft, made the announcement 08 June 2001 that Blackhawks throughout the Army had to replace the faulty pins with a newer model of pin due to cracks in the pin. Each aircraft requires eight blade pins and a lack of supply of the approved pins is keeping the aircraft grounded. Most units hoped to have replaced all the faulty blade pins and have the aircraft flying by the end of this month. The Army already had the pins, it just had to disperse them. However, while the pins are in transit, the majority of units could not perform their missions.
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