Black hawk

UH-60 Black Hawk

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is a medium-lift utility or assault helicopter derived from the twin-turboshaft engine, single rotor Sikorsky S-70.

The YUH-60A (S-70) was the winner of the United States Army Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition in the early 1970s to replace the UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) family. It would go on to serve as the basis for variants in service with other branches of the US military.


The Black Hawk was developed to meet a US Army Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) requirement for a UH-1 Iroquois replacement released in January 1972. Four prototypes were constructed, the first (YUH-60) flying in October 1974, and evaluated against a rival Boeing-Vertol design, the YUH-61A. A Preliminary Evaluation was conducted in November 1975 prior to delivery of the prototypes to the US Army. The evaluation was conducted to determine if the aircraft could be operated safely by typical Army pilots. Three of the prototypes were delivered to the US Army in March 1976, and one was kept by Sikorsky for internal research. The Black Hawk was selected for production in December 1976. Deliveries of the UH-60A to the US Army began in October 1978 and the helicopter entered service in June 1979.

In the late 1980s, the model was upgraded to the UH-60L (first production aircraft 89-26179) which featured more power and lift with the upgrade to the -701C model of the GE engine. The current production model (UH-60M) will extend the service life of the UH-60 design well into the 2020s, features still more power and lift and state of the art electronic instrumentation, flight controls and aircraft navigation control.


The Black Hawk series of aircraft can perform a wide array of missions, including the tactical transport of troops, electronic warfare, and aeromedical evacuation. A VIP version known as the VH-60N is used to transport important government officials (e.g., Congress, Executive departments) with the helicopter's call sign of "Marine One" when transporting the President of the United States. In air assault operations it can move a squad of 11 combat troops with equipment or reposition the 105 mm M102 howitzer with thirty rounds of 105 mm ammunition, and a four-man crew in a single lift. Alternatively, it can carry 2,600 lb (1,170 kg) of cargo or sling load 9,000 lb (4,050 kg) of cargo. The Black Hawk is equipped with advanced avionics and electronics for increased survivability and capability, such as the Global Positioning System.

The UH-60 can be equipped with stub wings at top of fuselage to carry fuel tanks or possibly armament. The initial stub wing system is called external stores support system (ESSS). It has two pylons on each wing to carry two 230 gal and two 450 gal tanks in total. The ESSS can also carry 10,000 lb of armament such as rockets, missile and gun pods. The ESSS entered service in 1986. However it was found that with four fuel tanks it would obstruct the firing field of the door guns. The external tank system (ETS) with unswept stub wings to carry two fuel tanks was developed to alleviate the issue.

The unit cost varies with the version due to the varying specifications, equipment and quantities. 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.

Operational history

The UH-60 entered service with the US Army's 101st Airborne Division in June 1979. The UH-60 its first combat service in the US invasion of Grenada in 1983. UH-60As also served in the invasion of Panama in 1989. UH-60A and UH-60L Black Hawks participated in the Gulf War of 1991. Black Hawks saw action in Somilia, Haiti, and the Balkans in the 1990s. UH-60s continue to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq.


The UH-60 comes in many variants, and many different modifications. The standard U.S. Army version can be fitted with the "External Stores Support System" (ESSS) which provides wings that allow it to carry up to four external fuel tanks for extended range operations or a variety of weapons, while variants may have different capabilities and their respective equipment in order to fulfill different roles.

Utility variants

  • UH-60A Black Hawk: Original U.S. Army version, carrying a crew of four and up to 11 passengers. Equipped with T-700-GE-700 engines. Produced 1977-1989.
  • UH-60C Black Hawk: Modified version for C2 missions.
  • UH-60L Black Hawk: UH-60A with upgraded T-700-GE-701C engines, improved durability gearbox, and additional vibration absorbers. Produced 1989-2007.
  • UH-60M Black Hawk: Improved design wide chord rotor blades, T-700-GE-701D Engines (max 1,998 shp each), improved durability gearbox, Integrated Vehicle Management Systems (IVHMS) computer, and modern "Glass Cockpit" flight instrument suite. Planned to replace all UH-60A aircraft within the U.S. Army. Produced 2007-present.
  • UH-60Q Black Hawk: UH-60A modified for medical evacuation. Aircraft since re-designated HH-60A.

Special purpose

  • EH-60A Black Hawk: Modified electrical system and stations for two electronic systems mission operators. (All examples of type have been taken back to standard UH-60A configuration.)
  • YEH-60B Black Hawk: UH-60A modified for special radar and avionics installations, prototype for stand-off target acquisition system.
  • EH-60C Black Hawk: UH-60A modified with special electronics equipment and external antenna. (All examples of type have been taken back to standard UH-60A configuration.)
  • EUH-60L (no official name assigned): Modified with additional mission electronic equipment for Army Airborne C2.
  • EH-60L Black Hawk: EH-60A with major mission equipment upgrade.
  • HH-60L (no official name assigned): USA variant. UH-60L extensively modified with medical mission equipment. Components include an external rescue hoist, integrated patient configuration system, environmental control system, on-board oxygen system (OBOGS), suction, mechanical litter-lift system, drop-down ambulatory seats, with crew-chief and flight medic positions relocated to the back of the cabin.
  • MH-60A Black Hawk: Modified with additional avionics, precision navigation system, FLIR and air-to-air refueling capability. Equipped with T-700-GE-701 engines.
  • MH-60K Black Hawk: USA variant. Special operations modification, used by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment ("Night Stalkers") at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
  • MH-60L Direct Action Penetrator (DAP): USA variant. Special operations modification, operated by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. It is capable of being armed with 30 mm chain gun and 2.75 inch rockets, as well as M134D gatling guns operated as door guns or fixed forward.
  • HH-60M {no official name assigned}: USA variant. UH-60M with medical mission equipment.
  • UH-60A RASCAL: NASA-modified version for the Rotorcraft-Aircrew Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory: $US25M program for the study of helicopter maneuverability in three programs, Superaugmented Controls for Agile Maneuvering Performance (SCAMP), Automated Nap-of-the-Earth (ANOE) and Rotorcraft Agility and Pilotage Improvement Demonstration (RAPID).
  • VH-60D Nighthawk: USMC variant. VIP-configured HH-60D, used for Presidential transport. T-700-GE-401C engines.
  • VH-60N Whitehawk: USMC variant. Modified UH-60A with features from the SH-60B/F Seahawks. Used for Presidential and VIP transport. It entered service in 1988 and nine were delivered.

Export versions

  • UH-60J Black Hawk: Export variant for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force and Maritime Self Defense Force. Also known as the S-70-12. Made under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
  • UH-60JA Black Hawk: Export variant for the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force. Also made under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
  • AH-60L Arpía III: Export version for Colombia, COIN attack version with improved electronics, firing system, FLIR, radar, light rockets and machine gun, developed by Fuerza Aérea Colombiana, Elbit and Sikorsky.
  • AH-60L Battle Hawk: Export version unsuccessfully tendered for Australian Army project AIR87.
  • UH-60P Black Hawk: Export version for the Republic of Korea, similar to UH-60L configuration.

See SH-60 Seahawk, HH-60 Pave Hawk, and HH-60 Jayhawk for other Sikorsky S-70 variants.


Sikorsky offered the design in the defense market, leading to its purchase by over 20 other countries. It is currently in service with the militaries of:

  • 9 S-70A-42 Black Hawk

More than 90 in current service

Specifications (UH-60L Black Hawk)

See also


  • Leoni, Ray D. Black Hawk, The Story of a World Class Helicopter, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2007. ISBN 978-1-56347-918-2.

External links

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