Aerial Warfare

Austrian Air Force Signs for 12 New Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters


Austrian Air Force Signs for 12 New Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters

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Austrian Air Force Signs for 12 New Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters
Austrian Air Force Signs for 12 New Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters

Austria has entered into a €715 million ($766 million) contract for the acquisition of twelve Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. The contract, approved under the USA’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process in May, includes not only the helicopters but also comprehensive logistics and program support, bringing the total estimated cost to $1.05 billion. The principal contractors will be Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, located in Stratford, CT. Austria’s request covers a range of essential components and systems, including twenty-six T700-GE-701D engines, fifteen AN/AAR-57 Counter Missile Warning Systems (CMWS), and thirty H-764U Embedded Global Positioning Systems with Inertial Navigation (EGI) equipped with selective availability anti-spoofing modules or the future M-Code replacement. Additionally, the package encompasses logistics services, mission equipment, and training to ensure seamless integration and operation.

This modernization initiative also includes an upgrade program for the existing fleet of nine S-70A Black Hawks, in collaboration with Alabama-based Ace Aerospace. Furthermore, three former US Army UH-60Ls will be upgraded to the new standard and delivered to Austria. The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, renowned for its versatility and reliability, is a four-blade, twin-engine, medium-lift utility military helicopter. Initially developed for the U.S. Army’s Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition in 1972, the UH-60A entered service in 1979, replacing the Bell UH-1 Iroquois as the Army’s tactical transport helicopter. Over the decades, the Black Hawk has seen numerous variants, including electronic warfare and special operations versions, and has been widely exported and utilized in various global conflicts.

Sikorsky Delivers 5,000th UH-60M Black Hawk Utility Helicopter
Sikorsky Delivers 5,000th UH-60M Black Hawk Utility Helicopter. (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

Development of the next improved variant, the UH-60M Black Hawks, was approved in 2001, to extend the service life of the UH-60 design into the 2020s. The UH-60M incorporates upgraded T700-GE-701D engines, improved rotor blades, and state-of-the-art electronic instrumentation, flight controls and aircraft navigation control. After the U.S. DoD approved low-rate initial production of the new variant, manufacturing began in 2006, with the first of 22 new UH-60Ms delivered in July 2006. After an initial operational evaluation, the Army approved full-rate production and a five-year contract for 1,227 helicopters in December 2007. By March 2009, 100 UH-60M helicopters had been delivered to the Army. In November 2014, the US military ordered 102 aircraft of various H-60 types, worth $1.3 billion.

The new UH-60M Black Hawks are expected to serve the Austrian Air Force (Österreichische Luftstreitkräfte) for at least the next 30 years, stationed at Hörsching. These new additions are set to replace the aging fleet of Bell 212 transports, which have been in service since the early 1980s. The first of these advanced helicopters is expected to be delivered in 2028, with the complete transition to be finalized by the end of the decade. The S-70A-42 Black Hawk is an export version for Austria. Austrian Air Force is also modernising its existing fleet of nine S-70As through an upgrade programme with Alabama-based Ace Aerospace. Another three former US Army UH-60Ls will also be raised to the new standard for later delivery to Austria.

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