Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk History

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk has become a workhorse for the United States and other military forces the world over. Its capabilities have increased her roles to include Special Operations assignments, assault, MedEvac, Command and Control and VIP transport duty on top of her inherent troop-transport capabilities. The first production Black Hawk entered service in 1979 and remains a primary fixture for many an army even today - two decades after its inception. Some 2,600 total Black Hawks have been delivered worldwide.

The Black Hawk was born out of the Sikorsky S-70 project designed to the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) specification that began in the latter part of the 1960's. The specification itself originated on the data collected from wartime use of the UH-1 "Huey" Iroquois helicopters pulling multiple duties across the war zone. Review of this experience brought about a need for capable replacement system for the immediate future. This design specification also coincided with development of the new General Electric turboshaft engine series designated as the T700. US Army feelers went out in 1972 with both Sikorsky and Boeing-Vertol both answering the call. The Sikorsky design was chosen ahead of the Boeing-Vertol YUH-61A attempt and the Sikorsky YUH-60A prototype achieved first flight on November 29th, 1974. The production contract was handed to Sikorsky in late 1976 with first deliveries of the Black Hawk system beginning on an October day two years later. The Black Hawk was officially introduced into service in the middle of 1979 with the US Army 101st Airborne Division, replacing the venerable UH-1 Hueys.

The UH-60 Black Hawk made its US combat debut in the 1983 Invasion of Grenada and later in the 1989 Invasion of Panama. The Black Hawk was put to good use in the 1991 coalition offensive of the 1991 Persian Gulf War to remove Saddam Hussein's invasion force from Kuwaiti soil. Perhaps the Black Hawks involvement in the assault on the capital city of Mogadishi in Somalia is what most observers will forever remember in regards to the helicopter's history. In the assault, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by enemy rocket-propelled grenades, leading to the horrifically televised display of the loss of American lives (18 in all, including one captured and 73 wounded), effectively signaling the beginning of the end of US involvement in that country. At the turn of the century, 9/11 forced direct American involvement in Afghanistan and - later - Iraq, extending the, yet, unwritten history of the Black Hawk helicopter into tomorrow.

The UH-60M represents the current Black Hawk production model. Operators of the Black Hawk range from the Pacific Rim to South America, the Middle East to Europe. Some of the largest operators include the United States, Columbia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia.

With thousands of units in circulation worldwide, the UH-60 Black Hawk, in all its varied forms, should continue to see active service throughout the 2020s.

A "stealthified" version of the UH-60 Black Hawk is said to have been used in the successful May 2011 assault on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan by forces of the United States Navy SEALs. The helicopter is said to be outfitted with a myriad of high-level technology that diminishes the aircraft's radar signature and noise levels, the former through a special fabric coating or "skin" and the latter by way of a dish-shaped installation over the tail rotor bub and (possibly) engine housings. These Black Hawks managed to remain undetected during the entire operation though one was lost to a malfunction and blown up while on the ground prior to mission's end. The operation resulted in the death of the 9/11 mastermind. However, remnants of the exploded helicopter were then picked up by the Pakistani government and hauled away to an unknown location. Of note is that the Chinese government maintains a close working relationship with the Pakistani government and may be in the market for such technology to further their own stealth programs.

Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk Specification


Active, In-Service


[ 2,625 Units ]:
Sikorsky Aircraft - USA / PZL - Poland / Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) - Turkey


- Ground Attack

- Close-Air Support (CAS)

- Transport

- Special Forces

- Unmanned



50.07 ft (15.26 m)


53.67 ft (16.36 m)


12.34 ft (3.76 m)


Empty Weight:

11,517 lb (5,224 kg)


24,500 lb (11,113 kg)

(Diff: +12,983lb)


2 x General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft engines developing 1,800 shaft horsepower while driving a four-blade main rotor and four-blade tail rotor.


Maximum Speed:

183 mph (294 kph; 159 kts)

Service Ceiling:

18,996 feet (5,790 m; 3.6 miles)

Maximum Range:

363 miles (584 km; 315 nm)


1,550 ft/min (472 m/min)


OPTIONAL: External Stores Support System (ESSS) offering up to four hardpoints.

2 x 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) on side-facing cabin pintle mounts.


16 x Hellfire Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs).

2 x External 230 gallon fuel tanks.

2 x External 450 gallon fuel tanks.

2 x GAU-19 12.7mm Gatling Guns.

2 x M240H 7.62mm GPMGs.

Mine Dispersal Systems.


2 x M134D Gatling Guns (fixed, forward-firing or at door mountings).

2 x 2.75" FFAR rocket pods.

1 x 30mm chain gun.


YUH-60A - Prototype Model Designation

UH-60 - Main Model Series Designation

UH-60A - Base US Army Model Designation; fitted with General Electric T700-GE-700 engines.

UH-60A RASCAL - Rotorcraft-Aircrew Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory for use by NASA.

UH-60C - Command and Control Variant

UH-60E - Proposed Troop Transport Variant for USMC

UH-60FFF (Fixed Forward-Firing) - Variant configured with support for 12.7mm heavy machine guns and 2.75" rocket pods.

UH-60J (S-70-12) - Export model for Japanese Air/Maritime Self Defense Forces; produced under license by Mitsubishi.

UH-60JA - Export model for Japanese Ground Self Defense Force; produced under license by Mitsubishi.

UH-60L - Improved UH-60A featuring T700-GE-701C engines, revised gearbox, and flight control system.

UH-60M - Standardized version featuring new avionics systems, improved composite main rotor with wider chord, improved gearbox, revised cockpit instrumentation with IVHMS computer and reinforced fuselage.

UH-60P - Export model for South Korea based on UH-60L.

UH-60Q "Dustoff" - MedEvac model; becoming the HH-60A.

EH-60A - ECM Jammer configuration; since brought back to UH-60A standard.

UH-60V - Modernized standard from UH-60L stock with Northrop Grumman cockpit.

YEH-60B - Prototype Model fitted with specialized radar systems and avionics.

EH-60C - Specialized Equipment and Antenna; since reverted back to UH-60A standard.

EUH-60L - Fitted with specialized equipment for Army Airborne Command and Control.

EH-60L - Upgraded EH-60A model.

HH-60G - Combat Rescue model

HH-60L - Modified UH-60L model for MedEvac

HH-60M - UH-60M model modified for MedEvac role.

MH-60A - FLIR-equipped for special mission use; updated avionics and navigation system; air-to-air refueling capability; fitted with General Electric T700-GE-701 series engines.

MH-60K - Special Operations Black Hawk for 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; fitted with in-flight refueling probe; terrain-following radar.

MH-60L "Direct Action Penetrator" - Special Operations Blackhawk for 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; fitted with 30mm chain gun, 2.75" rocket pods and M134D Gatling guns (door mounted or fixed forward).

MH-60R - Converted SH-60B model

MH-60S - United States Navy development; combat SAR duty; formerly designated as CH-60; fusion of SH-60 automatic flight control system and folding airframe elements for carrier storage and the base UH-60 airframe.

HH-60 "Pave Hawk" - USAF model series designation.

SH-60 "Seahawk" - USN model series designation.

VH-60D "Nighthawk" - USMC VIP HH-60D models for use as Presidential transport; fitted with T700-GE-401C engines.

VH-60N "Whitehawk" - USMC VIP UH-60A model for use as Presidential transport; nine examples produced.

AH-60L "Arpia III" - Export model for use by Columbia; fitted with FLIR, revised electronics and radar; provision for rockets and machine guns; developed to Columbian Air Force specifications.

AH-60L "Battle Hawk" - Proposed Export Model for use by Australian Army; never produced.

S-70A - Sikorsky Military Export Model Series Designation

S-70A-1 "Desert Hawk" - Export model for Saudi Arabian Army

S-70A-L1 "Desert Hawk" - Export MedEvac model for Saudi Arabian Army

S-70-5 - Philippine Air Force Export Model

S-70A-9 - Australian Army Export Model

S-70-11 - Jordanian Air Force Export Model

S-70-12 - Japanese Air/Maritime Self Defense Forces Search and Rescue (SAR) Export Model.

S-70-14 - Brunei Export Model

S-70-16 - Developmental Test Model for Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM 332 series engines.

S-70-17 - Turkish Export Model

S-70-19 (WS-70) - Westland license-production Black Hawk built in UK.

S-70-21 - Egyptian Export Model

S-70-24 - Mexican Export Model

S-70-26 - Moroccan Export Model

S-70-27 - Hong Kong Export Model

S-70A-42 - Austrian Export Model

S-70i - Export variant

T-70 - Local Turkish-produced model based on the S-70i export variant.


Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk

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