UN-60M Sky Kite
In 2005, Taiwan requested price and availability data for acquisition of 60 utility helicopters. In 2005, Bell proposed its UH-1Y Huey utility helicopter, and Sikorsky proposed its UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as replacement for Taiwan’s UH-1H Huey utility helicopters.
In 2007 Sikorsky offered to shift S-70 production to Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) if Taipei agreed to select UH-60 Black Hawk derivatives for several of its new helicopter requirements. Taiwan declined to accept the unsolicited proposal because it was not ready to acquire replacements for its army AH-1W attack and UH-1H utility helicopters, and was also leaning towards purchasing other types for more immediate firefighting and search and rescue (SAR) requirements.
On 29 January 2010 the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified the US Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States of 60 UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopters, technical and other related logistics support. The estimated cost is $3.1 billion.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States requested a possible sale of 60 UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopters with 120 T-700-GE-701D engines, 18 spare T-700-GE-701D engines, 69 AN/APR-39A(V)2 Radar Warning Receivers, 69 AN/ALQ- 144A(V)1 Infrared Countermeasure Sets, 69 AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems, 69 AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets, 120 GAU-19/A .50 cal Machine Gun Systems, and 310 AN/AVS-9 Aviator Night Vision Goggles. Also included are .50 cal ammunition, pyrotechnics, cartridges and propellant actuated devices. Also included are other explosives including devices, Po-Sheng Communication/Data Link Systems, ammunition, spare and repair parts, tools and support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services and other related elements of logistics support.
This sale is consistent with United States law and policy as expressed in Public Law 96-8. The U.S. is committed to providing military assistance under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act.
This proposed sale serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and enhance its defensive capability. The proposed sale would help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.
Taiwan recipient needs these helicopters for self-defense, personnel movement, cargo lifting, and aero medical evacuation capabilities. This procurement would modernize the recipient’s rotary wing fleet and provide for the defense of vital installations and close air support for ground forces. The recipient would have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.
The United States began delivering the first batch of six UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to Taiwan starting in early December 2014. The first six helicopters were part of the total 60 helicopters to arrive in Taiwan in seven batches. All 60 helicopters are expected to arrive in Taiwan by 2018. The more advanced helicopters would replace the military's aging UH-1H helicopter fleet.
The Taiwan-specific variant of the UH-60M has been designated as the Sky Kite by the TA. TA is fielding Sky Kite UH-60M Assault Battalions as part of the 602nd Air Cavalry Brigade on Shinshou Airbase and the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade on Lungtan Airbase, Taiwan. Each Sky Kite Battalion would consist of three UH-60M line companies; the 601st having companies with 8/8/7 aircraft with the 602nd having 8/8/6. The 602nd would be the first fielded battalion, then the 601st, with both battalions initially being trained/fielded at Shinshou, in sequence. The 601st Assault Battalion would move to Lungtan after completing their training at Shinshou. While the TA has a fully mature and highly capable Army Aviation organization it does lack expertise and experience with the UH-60M. Additionally, TA lacks the capability to train the number of personnel required to fill their new UH-60M Assault Battalions.
In 2015 some Taiwan legislators criticized the government’s overall policy on the program, citing the decision to incorporate 15 Black Hawks into the National Airborne Service Corps (NASC) under the Ministry of the Interior for rescue and disaster relief missions. The original intent of the procurement was to put the helicopters into military service under the Ministry of National Defense (MND) because the Black Hawks are sophisticated attack helicopters armed with advanced weapons and are primarily designed for combat.
Democratic Progressive Legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung said the interior ministry’s plan was flawed because the Black Hawks cannot land on CGA boats or other small ships used by the navy to patrol the nation’s nearshore waters. “The deck area on these patrol ships is too small for these helicopters to land. So it is impossible for the Black Hawks to engage in search-and-rescue and other disaster-relief missions at sea. This is a wrong-headed policy and is a total waste of taxpayers’ money,” Chuang said.
NASC Director-General Tung Chian-cheng admitted that the inadequate deck space on these ships for UH-60 helicopters to land is a big problem, and no solution had been found.
Sikorsky aircraft producer would construct 24 UH-60M Black Hawk multi-mission helicopters for Taiwanese armed forces under a 2016 foreign military contract deal. The UH-60M is a modified version of the Black Hawk, a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility chopper aimed at serving in the harshest conditions worldwide. The Taiwan’s copters would be “uniquely configured,” the contract states without revealing further details. Earlier, US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) released notification unveiling that the copters would have GAU-19/A 12.7 mm Gatling guns, radar warning receivers, infrared countermeasure sets, laser detecting sets and communication/datalink systems.
The two dozen Taiwanese aircraft would replace the country’s UH-1H Huey utility copters that now operate in Air Cavalry Brigades under the Aviation and Special Forces Command. Under the contract, the new aircraft would be shipped to Taiwan by October 2018. Taiwan ordered a total of 60 Black Hawks valued some $3.1 billion in 2010, and the new contract is a part of the wider deal. The first four platforms were delivered to the country in December 2014, and shipping in batches of seven are continuing.
“All 60 of the basic aircraft are under contract,” Defense News quoted a Sikorsky source as saying. “This most recent contract is for completion work, adding options and the stuff different from the USA.” To fulfill its obligations, the Lockheed Martin subsidiary has been awarded $135.4 million. That means that each unit under the contract would cost around $5.6 million, roughly four times less than an ordinary complete package Black Hawk that has a price tag of at least $20 million. According to IHS Janes 360, the value of the copters suggests that the additional contracts are to be expected. At the time of the award, the US Army said it would cover the full value of this deal from its fiscal 2016 “other” funds. All the works are expected to be carried in Stratford, Connecticut, where Sikorsky is based.
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