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UH-60 Black Hawk
A UH-60L Black Hawk flies a low-level mission over Iraq in 2004.
Role Utility helicopter
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
First flight 29 November 1974
Introduced 1979
Status Active service
Primary users United States Army
Republic of Korea Army
Colombian Armed Forces
Turkish Armed Forces
Produced 1974–present
Number built > 2,600
Unit cost US$14 million (2008)
Variants SH-60 Seahawk
HH-60 Pave Hawk
HH-60 Jayhawk
Sikorsky S-70

The UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition in 1972. The Army designated the prototype as the YUH-60A and selected the Black Hawk as the winner of the program in 1976, after a fly-off competition with the Boeing Vertol YUH-61. The UH-60A entered service with the Army in 1979, to replace the UH-1 Iroquois as the Army's tactical transport helicopter.



In the late 1960s, the United States Army began forming requirements for a helicopter to replace the UH-1 Iroquois, and designated the program as the Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS). The Army also initiated the development of a new, common turbine engine for its helicopters that would become the General Electric T700. Based on experience in Vietnam, the Army required significant performance, survivability and reliability improvements from both UTTAS and the new powerplant.[1] The Army released its UTTAS request for proposals (RFP) in January 1972.[2] The RFP also included air transport requirements. Transport aboard the C-130 limited the UTTAS cabin height and length.[3]

Four prototypes were constructed, with the first YUH-60A flying in October 1974. Prior to delivery of the prototypes to the US Army, a preliminary evaluation was conducted in November 1975 to ensure the aircraft could be operated safely during all testing.[4] Three of the prototypes were delivered to the Army in March 1976, for evaluation against the rival Boeing-Vertol design, the YUH-61A, and one was kept by Sikorsky for internal research. The Army selected the UH-60 for production in December 1976. Deliveries of the UH-60A to the Army began in October 1978 and the helicopter entered service in June 1979.[5]

Further developments

After entering service, the helicopter was modified for new missions and roles, including mine laying and medical evacuation. An EH-60 variant was developed to conduct electronic warfare and special operations aviation developed the MH-60 variant to support its missions.[6]

UH-60A Black Hawk parked on flight line

Due to weight increases from the addition of mission equipment and other changes, the Army ordered the improved UH-60L in 1987. The new model incorporated all of the modifications made to the UH-60A fleet as standard design features. The UH-60L also featured more power and lifting capability with upgraded T700-GE-701C engines and a stronger gearbox, both developed for the SH-60B Seahawk.[7] Its external lift capacity increased by 1,000 lb (450 kg) to 9,000 lb (4,100 kg). The UH-60L also incorporated the automatic flight control system (AFCS) from the SH-60 for better flight control due to handling issues with the more powerful engines.[8] Production of the L-model began in 1989.[7]

UH-60 Black Hawks equipped with M60 machine guns near An Najaf, Iraq in May 2005.

Development of the next improved variant, the UH-60M, 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 and improved rotor blades. It also features 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,[9] manufacturing began in 2006,[10] with the first of 22 new UH-60Ms delivered in July 2006.[11] After an initial operational evaluation, the Army approved full-rate production and a five-year contract for 1,227 helicopters in December 2007.[12] By March 2009, 100 UH-60M helicopters had been delivered to the Army.[13]


The UH-60 features a four-blade main and tail rotors and is powered by two GE T700 turboshaft engines. It has a long, low profile shape to meet the Army's requirement for transporting aboard a C-130 Hercules.[14] It can carry 11 troops with equipment, lift 2,600 lb (1,170 kg) of cargo internally or 9,000 lb (4,050 kg) of cargo (for UH-60L/M) externally by sling.[12]

The Black Hawk helicopter series 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.[15] In air assault operations it can move a squad of 11 combat troops or reposition a 105 mm M102 howitzer with thirty rounds ammunition, and a four-man crew in a single lift.[12] 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).[16] It has two pylons on each wing to carry two 230 US gal (870 L) and two 450 US gal (1,700 L) tanks in total.[8] The four fuel tanks and associated lines and valves form the external extended range fuel system (ERFS).[17] The ESSS can also carry 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) of armament such as rockets, missile and gun pods.[8][18] 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. To alleviate the issue, the external tank system (ETS) with unswept stub wings to carry two fuel tanks was developed.[8]

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.[19]

Operational history

U.S. Army

U.S. Army MH-60L during the Battle of Mogadishu.

The UH-60 entered service with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division in June 1979.[20] The U.S. military first utilized the UH-60 in combat during the invasion of Grenada in 1983, and again in the invasion of Panama in 1989. During the Gulf War in 1991, the UH-60 participated in the largest air assault mission in U.S. Army history with over 300 helicopters involved. In 1993, Black Hawks featured prominently in the assault on Mogadishu in Somalia. Black Hawks also saw action in the Balkans and Haiti in the 1990s. UH-60s continue to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq.[8]


Colombia first received UH-60s from the United States in 1987. The Colombian National Police, Colombian Air Force, and Colombian Army use UH-60s to mobilize troops and supplies to places which are difficult to access by ground for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations against drug and guerrilla organizations, as well as for search & rescue and medical evacuation. Colombia also has a militarized gunship version of the UH-60, with stub wings, locally known as Arpia (English: Harpy).[21][22]


The Israeli Air Force (IAF) received 10 surplus UH-60A Black Hawks from the United States in August 1994.[23] Nicknamed Yanshuf (English: Owl),[24] the UH-60A began replacing Bell 212 utility helicopters of the Israeli Defense Forces.[23] The IAF first used the UH-60s in combat in April 1996, during operation "Grapes of Wrath" against the Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.

In March 2000, three IAF UH-60s were used to ferry Pope John Paul II during his visit to Israel, with one helicopter carrying the Pope, another his medical team and a third available on constant standby. The IAF had 49 UH-60s in operation as of 2008.[25]


Mexican Federal Police UH-60/S-70

The Mexican Air Force received its first two UH-60Ls in 1991, to transport special forces units, and since then received another 4 in 1994.[26] In March 2009, the United States stated it would provide helicopters and other equipment under the Mérida Initiative, to fight the drug cartels in the Mexican drug war.[27] In July and August 2009, the Federal Police used UH-60s in attacks on drug traffickers.[28][29]

Republic of China (Taiwan)

Taiwan has operating S-70C-1/1A since ROC Air Force received ten S-70C-1A and four S-70C-1 Bluehawk helicopters in June 1986 to use as Search And Rescue helicopters.[30] Further 4 S-70C-6 were receive April 1998. ROC Navy received first of 10 S-70C(M)-1 in July 1990. 11 S-70C(M)-2 were received beginning April 2000.[31] In January 2010, the US announced a Foreign Military Sale of 60 UH-60Ms to Taiwan for ROC Army, with related items for 3.1 billion USD.[32][33]


Turkey has operated the UH-60 during NATO deployments to Afghanistan and Balkans. The UH-60 has also been used in the government's conflict with Kurdish insurgents near and along the Iraqi border.

The Black Hawk is a strong contender in the Turkish General Use Helicopter Tender. Under this project Turkey intends to order 115 helicopters and produce most of them indigenously.[34][35]


The United Arab Emirates has requested 14 UH-60M helicopters through a Foreign Military Sale. The package includes laser and radar warning sensors as well as weapons systems.[36] Brazil has requested 15 additional UH-60Ls through a Foreign Military Sale in 2008.[37]


The UH-60 comes in many variants, and many different modifications. The U.S. Army variants can be fitted with the stub wings to carry additional fuel tanks or weapons.[8] Variants may have different capabilities and their respective equipment in order to fulfill different roles.

Utility variants

UH-60L from B Company ("Lancers"), 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, on an air assault mission in Iraq
Israel Air Force UH-60 Black Hawk (Yanshuf)
  • UH-60A Black Hawk: Original U.S. Army version, carrying a crew of four[38] and up to 11 passengers. Equipped with T700-GE-700 engines.[39] Produced 1977-1989.
  • UH-60C Black Hawk: Modified version for Command and control (C2) missions.[39]
  • CH-60E: Proposed troop transport variant for the US Marine Corps.[40]
  • UH-60L Black Hawk: UH-60A with upgraded T700-GE-701C engines, improved durability gearbox, and updated flight control system.[8] Produced 1989-2007.[41]
  • UH-60M Black Hawk: Improved design wide chord rotor blades, T700-GE-701D engines (max 2,000 shp/1,500 kW each), improved durability gearbox, Integrated Vehicle Management Systems (IVHMS) computer, and modern "Glass Cockpit" flight instrument suite. Production began in 2006.[42] Planned to replace older U.S. Army UH-60s.[43]
  • UH-60M Upgrade Black Hawk: UH-60M with fly-by-wire system and Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) flight system. Flight testing began in August 2008.[44][45]

Special purpose

US Army UH-60Q MEDEVAC evacuating simulated casualties during a training exercise.
  • EH-60A Black Hawk: UH-60A with modified electrical system and stations for two electronic systems mission operators. All examples of type have been converted back to standard UH-60A configuration.[39]
  • YEH-60B Black Hawk: UH-60A modified for special radar and avionics installations, prototype for stand-off target acquisition system.[39]
  • EH-60C Black Hawk: UH-60A modified with special electronics equipment and external antenna.[39] (All examples of type have been taken back to standard UH-60A configuration.)
  • EUH-60L (no official name assigned): UH-60L modified with additional mission electronic equipment for Army Airborne C2.[39]
  • EH-60L Black Hawk: EH-60A with major mission equipment upgrade.[39]
  • UH-60Q Black Hawk: UH-60A modified for medical evacuation.[39][46]
  • HH-60L (no official name assigned): UH-60L extensively modified with medical mission equipment.[39] Components include an external rescue hoist, integrated patient configuration system, environmental control system, on-board oxygen system (OBOGS), and crashworthy ambulatory seats.[46]
  • 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).[48][49]
  • VH-60D Nighthawk: USMC variant. VIP-configured HH-60D, used for Presidential transport. T700-GE-401C engines.[39]
  • VH-60N Whitehawk: USMC variant. Modified UH-60A with some features from the SH-60B/F Seahawks.[50] Used for Presidential and VIP transport. It entered service in 1988 and nine were delivered.[50]

Export versions

  • 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 the Colombian Air Force, Elbit and Sikorsky.
  • AH-60L Battle Hawk: Export version unsuccessfully tendered for Australian Army project AIR87, similar to AH-60L Arpía III.
  • UH-60P Black Hawk: Export version for the Republic of Korea, based on UH-60L with some improvements.[39][40]


Norwegian soldiers in a UH-60

Sikorsky military model for the export market:

  • S-70A-1 Desert Hawk: Export version for the Royal Saudi Land Forces.
  • S-70A-L1 Desert Hawk: Aeromedical evacuation version for the Royal Saudi Land Forces.
  • S-70-5 Black Hawk: Export version for the Philippine Air Force.
  • S-70A-9 Black Hawk: Export version for the Australian Army.
  • S-70-11 Black Hawk: Export version for the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
  • S-70-12 Black Hawk: Search and rescue model for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force and Maritime Self Defense Force. Also known as the UH-60J.
  • S-70-14 Black Hawk: Export version for Brunei.
  • S-70-16 Black Hawk: Engine test bed for the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM 332.
  • S-70-17 Black Hawk: Export version for Turkey.
  • Sikorsky/Westland S-70-19 Black Hawk: This version is built under license in the United Kingdom by Westland. Also known as the WS-70.
  • S-70-21 Black Hawk: Export version for Egypt.
  • S-70-24 Black Hawk: Export version for Mexico.
  • S-70-26 Black Hawk: Export version for Morocco.
  • S-70-27 Black Hawk: Export version for Hong Kong.
  • S-70A-30 Black Hawk: Export version for Argentine Air Force Presidential fleet[52]
  • S-70A-42 Black Hawk: Export version for Austria.
  • S-70A-43 Black Hawk: Export version for Royal Thai Army.

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

Military operators

An Australian Army S-70A-9 Black Hawk
An Austrian S-70A-42
Received 2 UH-60A/S-70A and 8 UH-60L/S-70A Black Hawks.[54]
Received 1 UH-60A and 1 UH-60L Black Hawks with 9 UH-60Ms on order as of 2007.[55]
Received 1 UH-60L.[57]
Received 8 UH-60Ls,[58] with 4 in service as of Nov. 2008.[25]
Has 49 S-70A/UH-60A/L helicopters in use as of Nov. 2008.[25]
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force UH-60J
Has 9 UH-60Ls in service with 2 on order as of Nov. 2008.[25]
 South Korea
  • The Republic of Korea Army and Navy received 130 and 10 UH-60P Black Hawks, respectively.[59] Republic of Korea has 43 S-70As, and 98 UH-60Ps in use as of Nov. 2008.[25]
 People's Republic of China
 Republic of China (Taiwan)
 Saudi Arabia 
Has 15 UH-60Ls in use as of November 2008.[25]
The Turkish military and national police received 12 UH-60A/L (S-70A-17), and 95 UH-60L (S-70A-28) Black Hawks.[63] The Turkish Army has 59 S-70As (UH-60A/L) in service as of January 2010.[53]
 United Arab Emirates
 United States

Former military operators


See Sikorsky S-70 for civilian operators.

Specifications (UH-60L)

Orthographically projected diagram of the UH-60A Black Hawk.

Data from Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes,[65] US Army Fact File,[66] International Directory,[67] Black Hawk[68]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 pilots (flight crew)
  • Capacity: 2,640 lb of cargo internally, including 14 troops or 6 stretchers, or 8,000 lb (UH-60A) or 9,000 lb (UH-60L) of cargo externally
  • Length: 64 ft 10 in (19.76 m)
  • Fuselage width: 7 ft 9 in (2.36 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 53 ft 8 in (16.36 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 10 in (5.13 m)
  • Disc area: 2,260 ft² (210 m²)
  • Empty weight: 10,624 lb (4,819 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 22,000 lb (9,980 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 23,500 lb (10,660 kg)
  • Powerplant:General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft, 1,890 hp (1,410 kW) each



  • Guns:

See also

A cockpit view of a UH-60 Black Hawk from 1st Cavalry Division flying out of Camp Taji, Iraq 2009.

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists


  1. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 8-10.
  2. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 11, 39.
  3. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 39, 42–43.
  4. ^ Leoni 2007, p. 165.
  5. ^ Eden, Paul. "Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk/Seahawk", Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft. Amber Books, 2004. ISBN 1904687849.
  6. ^ Tomajczyk 2003, pp. 15–29.
  7. ^ a b Leoni 2007, pp. 217-218.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Bishop, Chris. Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. Osprey, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84176852-6.
  9. ^ "Pentagon Acquisition Panel Authorizes UH-60M BLACK HAWK Low Rate Initial Production". Sikorsky Aircraft, 4 April 2005.
  10. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 233-236.
  11. ^ "Sikorsky Aircraft Delivers First New Production UH-60M BLACK HAWK Helicopter to U.S. Army". Sikorsky Aircraft, 31 July 2006.
  12. ^ a b c UH-60 Black Hawk Sikorsky S-70A - Multi-Mission Helicopter.
  13. ^ "Sikorsky Aircraft Delivers 100th New Production UH-60M BLACK HAWK Helicopter to U.S....". Reuters, 25 March 2009.
  14. ^ Harding, Stephen. "Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk". U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1997. ISBN 0-7643-0190-X.
  15. ^ VH-60. Global Security
  16. ^ Preliminary Airworthiness Eval of UH-60A Configured with ESSS
  17. ^ TFM 3-04.500 Army Aviation Maintenance, Appendix G. US Department of the Army, 26 September 2000. Hosted on Accessed: 15 April 2009.
  18. ^ Preliminary Airworthiness Eval of UH-60A/ESSS with Hellfire Missile Launcher Installed - DTIC
  19. ^ H-60, Global Security
  20. ^ Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk,, 1 July 2006.
  21. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 270-273.
  22. ^ Arpia. Retrieved on 30 September 2009. "Arpía [ar-pee’-ah] noun 1. (Poetic.) Harpy, a bird of prey represented by poets. (f)"
  23. ^ a b Leoni 2007, pp. 278-279.
  24. ^ "Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk." Official Israeli Air Force website. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Directory: World Air Forces". Flight International, 11–17 November 2008.
  26. ^ Aztec Rotors - Helicopters of Mexican Air Force
  27. ^ Clinton vows US backing in Mexican drug wars.
  28. ^ "Mexico sends 1,000 more police to drug area". MSNBC, 16 July 2009.
  29. ^ "Mexican police arrest 34 drug cartel suspects". CNN, 3 August 2009.
  30. ^ a b "ROCAF Sikorsky S-70C Bluehawk". November 11, 2008.
  31. ^ "Sikorsky S-70C(M) Thunderhawk". April, 2008.
  32. ^ "Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States – UH-60M BLACK HAWK Helicopters". US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, 29 January 2010.
  33. ^ a b Govindasamy, Siva. "USA okays Black Hawks for Taiwan, Beijing mulls sanctions". Flight International, 31 January 2010.
  34. ^ Turkey to decide in June between AW149, 'T-70' Black Hawk
  35. ^ "TAI to procure more helicopters for security". Today's Zaman, 6 April 2009
  36. ^ "United Arab Emirates - UH-60M BLACK HAWK Helicopters". US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, 9 September 2008.
  37. ^ "Brazil Buys UH-60L Black Hawks"., 15 September 2009.
  38. ^ Black Hawk, U.S. Army Fact Files,, retrieved 2008-09-13 
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m DoD 4120-15L, "Model Designation of Military Aerospace Vehicles". DoD, 12 May 2004.
  40. ^ a b c Donald, David, ed. "Sikorsky S-70". The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Barnes & Noble Books, 1997. ISBN 0-7607-0592-5.
  41. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 217-224.
  42. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 233-244.
  43. ^ "Sikorsky Aircraft Fully Equips First U.S. Army Unit With UH-60M BLACK HAWK Helicopters". Sikorsky Aircraft, 10 June 2008.
  44. ^ "Sikorsky's UH-60M Upgrade BLACK HAWK Helicopter Achieves First Flight". Sikorsky, 29 August 2008.
  45. ^ New Army Black Hawk succeeds in combat - US Army, 4 March 2010
  46. ^ a b Colucci, Frank. "Modern Medevac Mobilized". Rotor & Wing, 1 October 2004.
  47. ^ 160th's web page
  48. ^ Science Blog, NASA
  49. ^ Image of UH-60A RASCAL first flight (archived from the original on 2006-11-26)
  50. ^ a b Leoni 2007, pp. 214-215.
  51. ^ a b Mitsubishi Heavy Industries UH-60J page
  52. ^ Argentine pic & video.
  53. ^ a b c d e "World Military Aircraft Inventory". 2010 Aerospace Source Book. Aviation Week and Space Technology, January 2010.
  54. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 262-264.
  55. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 257-259.
  56. ^ "Sikorsky Aerospace Services Announces Multimillion-Dollar Contract to Upgrade Colombia BLACK HAWK Helicopters". Sikorsky, 4 November 2008.
  57. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 266-268.
  58. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 273-274.
  59. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 298-300.
  60. ^ a b Leoni 2007, pp. 248–249, 313-314.
  61. ^ Leoni 2007, p. 314.
  62. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 285-286.
  63. ^ a b Leoni 2007, pp. 306-311.
  64. ^ Leoni 2007, pp. 250-256.
  65. ^ a b Gunston, Bill (1995). The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes. London: Aerospace Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-56619-908-5. 
  66. ^ Black Hawk fact file. US Army.
  67. ^ Frawley, Gerald. The International Directory of Military Aircraft, 2002/2003. Aerospace Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-875671-55-2.
  68. ^ a b c d e f g h Tomajczyk 2003, pp. 11, 14–15.
  69. ^ "M240H 7.62mm Machine Gun (Aviation Version)". U.S. Army PEO Soldier. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  • 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.
  • Tomajczyk, Stephen F. Black Hawk. MBI, 2003. ISBN 0-7603-1591-4.

External links

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