The UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter is a front-line utility helicopter is used for air assault, air cavalry, medevac units, and Special Operations. First entering service in 1979, the UH-60 derives its name from the famed Native American Sauk Warrior Chief Black Hawk. It is the most successful tactical utility transport helicopter in the US Army inventory, and variations of it are used by all branches of the United States armed forces.
More about the UH-60 Black Hawk
The UH-60 Black Hawk is considered to be the most significant utility helicopter in the US Army. In 1972, Sikorsky Aircrafts submitted the initial S-70 design for the US Army’s UTTAS (Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System) competition. Sikorsky won the competition and was asked to proceed with large-scale production. The Black Hawk entered service in 1979 and since then around 4,000 helicopters have been built.
The Black Hawk was among the first helicopters that had a modular design. This made maintenance tasks quicker and less tedious. It also had improved reliability and survivability features that set the standard for future designs for military helicopters.
The UH-60 Black Hawk was first introduced to combat in 1983 during the invasion of Grenada. Later, in 1989, it was used in the invasion of Panama. The successes in these operations helped the Black Hawk build its reputation which was eventually secured during the Gulf War. The famous 1991 air assault of the Gulf War involved more than 300 helicopters and several fighter jets. Recently Black Hawks have actively participated in numerous operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The helicopter is also used by the US Border Patrol for surveillance to help combat illegitimate entry of aliens across the border.
The US Army also uses Black Hawks for stealth and special operations. Highly modified and upgraded models of the Black Hawk were used by United States Special Forces in an important stealth raid in May 2011, which ultimately resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Design and capabilities
The design of UH-60 Black Hawk features a four-blade main rotor and canted tail-blade. The power plant uses two General Electric’s T700 turbo-shaft engines connected to a single drive shaft. In compliance with the US Army’s requirements, the Black Hawk can be transported by a C-130 Hercules. Because of this, the fuselage has a long, low profile and a two stage landing gear.
A fully armored cockpit protects the crew from ballistic hits. Strategic elements like the fuel tank also have anti-ballistic features. All electric and hydraulic flight controls are protected by armored casings. The heavy armor makes it possible to use the Black Hawk in front-line environments and against guerrilla-style militants.
The crew includes two pilots and two gunners or crew chiefs. In its transport configuration the Black Hawk can carry up to 14 troops with equipment or 2,600lbs of cargo. Medical configuration Black Hawk helicopters have space for 6 stretchers and related life-saving equipment. Loads can also be carried using sling harnesses. During military missions Black Hawks are used to carry artillery and related crew for positioning on the front-line.
The General Electric engines generate 1,890hp each and provide impressive performance stats. The essential performance facts are given below:
Max Speed 183mph
Cruise Speed 173mph
Range 690miles (with external fuel tanks)
Max Altitude 19,000ft
The success of the Black Hawk has made it an important asset in the army. It is used by the military organizations of more than 24 nations. Black Hawks are also used by fire-fighting and coast guard units around the globe.