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MH-60A Black Hawk

In 1980, the UH-60A Blackhawk helicopter served as the assault platform for the newly formed Task Force 160 (formally known as the 160th Aviation Battalion). The UH-60A Blackhawk, fielded in 1979, was a new aircraft at the time across the Army. Task Force 160 received 30 UH-60As from the 101st Airborne Division and promptly modified them by adding long-range navigation equipment, over-the-horizon communication systems, and a crude extended-range fuel system. The fuel system, consisting of 6 140-gallon UH-1H auxiliary fuel bladders that were supported by 3/4-inch marine-grade plywood, enabled the modified UH-60A to fly more than 800 nautical miles without refueling. Covering the aircraft's cockpit lights with tape solved the night-vision-goggle lighting problems, and installing FRIES in 1981 gave the aircraft even more capabilities.

In 1984, a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) system was installed on an Army Blackhawk for the first time. Installing FLIR required numerous avionics modifications that heightened the complexity of the aircraft and increased the pilot's workload. In 1985, to reduce the complexity, the Rockwell Collins Corporation initiated an integration effort, the Cockpit Management System, or CMS 80, that integrated the helicopter's communications and navigation systems. CMS 80 allowed the pilot to manage the cockpit through a control-display unit. It greatly reduces the aircrew's workload and allows them to focus on what was taking place outside the cockpit. The 16 aircraft that received the integrated cockpit modification were designated MH-60A.

Just prior to Operation Prime Chance in 1987, the 160th replaced the M60D machine guns on the MH-60As with M134 "Miniguns" and added 2 185-gallon internal Robertson auxiliary fuel tanks. In 1989, the unit received UH-60L helicopters that were then modified with the CMS 80 cockpit, global positioning system, color weather radar, FRIES, and an external rescue hoist. These helicopters were designated MH-60L.

Also in 1989, the MH-60A helicopter, armed with .50-caliber machine guns, fixed forward M134 Miniguns, and 2.75-inch rockets, became known as the Direct Armed Penetrator, or DAP. As a result of subsequent lessons learned in numerous combat operations , the DAP configuration was significantly improved and applied to the MH-60L helicopter..




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