The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence signed a U.S. $213 million deal Friday with its U.S. government for four Lockheed Martin UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. The contract was signed by Lithuanian Minister of Defence Raimundas Karoblis and U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller on Nov. 13. The contract also includes 30 million additional equipment, spares, and a training, repair and logistical support package. The deal marks the first acquisition of American helicopters in the Lithuanian military’s history. Lithuania also received approval from the U.S. Congress to procure two more helicopters in the future if necessary.
The first shipment of the Black Hawks could be delivered to Lithuania in late 2024 when the Lithuania Armed Forces will have fully trained personnel – pilots and ground support specialists – to work with the new platform and ready maintenance and ground support equipment. The new helos will enable Lithuanian Armed Forces to replace its outdated Mil Mi-8T copters with Western-made copters as part of the country’s military modernization efforts. The Soviet-made helicopter fleet operation is also difficult: expensive maintenance, prone to failures, risky repair because of complicated provision of spares from Russia.
The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters will significantly improve interaction with strategic and regional partners – armed forces of thirty countries worldwide, including Denmark, Latvia, Poland and Sweden, acquired the platform of the same manufacturer. It will expand the opportunities to train and carry out operations together in more numerous groups of personnel, alongside partners that also operate Black Hawks. Fast, manoeuvrable and efficient UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters will also enable the Lithuanian Armed Forces to respond to aid requests significantly more quickly and to assist with search and rescue tasks.
The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-blade, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft (Lockheed Martin). Named after the Native American war leader Black Hawk, the UH-60A entered service with the U.S. Army in 1979, to replace the Bell UH-1 Iroquois as the Army’s tactical transport helicopter. This was followed by the fielding of electronic warfare and special operations variants of the Black Hawk. Improved UH-60L and UH-60M utility variants have also been developed. Modified versions have also been developed for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. In addition to U.S. Army use, the UH-60 family has been exported to several nations.