Sikorsky Aircraft has been awarded a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract worth $245.4 million to manufacture and deliver 22 new UH-60M Black Hawk advanced utility helicopters to the US Army. The contract also contains options for up to eight additional UH-60M helicopters.
First deliveries under the contract are set to begin in July 2006 to support the September 2006 start of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (OPEVAL). A full-rate production decision to authorise more than 1,200 UH-60M aircraft is scheduled for 2007. The Army plans to equip a combat unit with the UH-60M in early 2008.
The UH-60M is designed to replace the older UH-60A Black Hawk and is the centrepiece of the Army’s long-term effort to modernise the service’s medium- lift helicopter fleet. Sikorsky Aircraft has manufactured the Army Black Hawk since 1978. During the UH-60M LRIP phase, Sikorsky will also continue to build and deliver new UH-60L models to the Army.
Sikorsky says the UH-60M provides additional payload and range, advanced digital avionics, better handling qualities and situational awareness, and active vibration control.
The UH-60M’s new composite spar wide-chord blade will provide 227 kg (500 lb) more lift than the current UH-60L blade. The new General Electric T700-GE- 701D engine will add more horsepower and allow additional lift during external lift (sling load) operations.