Sikorsky, a unit of Lockheed Martin, will formally propose its S-70i Armed Black Hawk for a Philippine Air Force attack helicopter requirement. The Philippines inked a $241.4 million contract with PZL Mielec, Sikorsky’s company in Poland in June 2019 to purchase 16 S-70i (also designated as UH-60s) the Armed Black Hawks helicopters for the Philippine Air Force combat utility helicopter (CUH) programme. Sikorsky will offer the Armed Black Hawk on a direct commercial sales basis. The other two US helicopters in contention, the Bell AH-1Z Zulu and Boeing AH-64E Apache, are being offered under Washington’s Foreign Military Sale (FMS) mechanism. PZL Mielec will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2020, with remainder scheduled for 2021.
The S-70i Armed Black Hawk helicopter fitted with a single-station external stores pylon designed at PZL Mielec as a lighter weight, lower cost alternative to currently fielded dual-station external wings, a single-station pylon attached to one or both sides of the aircraft will be compatible with the advanced weapon system that allows Black Hawk pilot gunners to support battlefield operations using forward firing guns, rockets and air-to-ground missiles. PZL Mielec developing the single-station pylon in response to requests by militaries across Europe, Latin America and Asia for a battlefield support helicopter that can be armed for different types of missions that may not always need four weapons stations.
At a quarter the cost and weight of a dual-station wing, a pylon can be removed or attached by two people in 15 minutes, produces less drag during flight, offers a wider field of fire to window or door gunners, and opens more space to hoist a litter into the aircraft while in a hover. As a complementary option for the S-70i / S-70M Armed Black Hawk with dual-station wings, the single station pylon will integrate with the aircraft’s weapons management system that calculates the range and complex ballistics required for pilot gunners to engage targets with high accuracy and reliability from stand-off distances during day and night operations.
Weapons are carried by two external wings supporting four weapons stations, which can support any combination of fixed forward 50-cal (12.7mm) gun, 7- or 19-shot Hydra 70 rocket pods, or Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. Additionally, the qualified configuration features pilot-controlled fixed forward or crew served flex fire 7.62-mm mini-guns mounted to both cabin windows. Once integrated for weapons delivery, the armed Black Hawk aircraft can be configured to perform a variety of medium attack missions. To engage with guns and rockets, the weapons system presents continuously updated targeting symbology to each pilot’s helmet mounted display. By following the cues on the display, the pilot can maneuver the aircraft and engage the target. The system also provides target designation for laser-guided HELLFIRE missiles.