Warplanes: Relatively Instant Delivery for Jordanian Commandos

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March 27, 2016: Jordan has received most of the dozen UH-60L transport helicopters it requested from the United States in mid-2015. These are older and second hand models rather that the latest version (UH-60M). While Jordan gets these helicopters (and much more military gear) for free, it’s not cost that was the most important factor here. Jordan is in the midst of a war with ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and uses the dozen S-70s (the civilian version of the UH-60L) it has had for over a decade to supports its commando operations. Jordan has one of the most effective special operations forces in the region and improving their air transportation improves the effectiveness of these elite Jordanian troops. This is why any UH-60s are appreciated, especially since they were found and delivered so quickly.

The U.S. Army was the first and always the largest user of UH-60s, having received about 70 percent of the nearly 3,000 UH-60s built since the late 1970s. All UH-60s are militarized versions (UH-60, HH-60, MH-60) of the Sikorsky S-70. The UH-60 was introduced in 1979. In 2006 the U.S. Army introduced the "M" model, which featured several improvements over the previous L model. These included new rotor blades (more reliable, and provide 227 kg/500 pounds of additional lift), an all-electronic cockpit (putting all needed information on four full-color displays), an improved autopilot, improved flight controls (making flying easier, especially in stressful situations), a stronger fuselage, more efficient navigation system, better infrared suppression (making it harder for heat seeking missiles to hit), and more powerful engines. Before the M model, the last major upgrade had been in the late 1980s, with the UH-60L. The M version, which cost about 50 million dollars each, fully equipped, will make the UH-60 viable into the 2020s. But there are still a lot of UH-60Ls out there and the S-70s Jordan currently operates are more similar to the UH-60L than the UH-60M. Eventually Jordan can upgrade its UH-60Ls to the M standard, as many nations have already done.

The 11 ton UH-60M can carry 14 troops, or 1.1 tons of cargo internally, or four tons slung underneath. Cruise speed is 278 kilometers an hour. Max endurance is two hours, although most sorties last 90 minutes or less. Max altitude is 5,790 meters (19,000 feet).

 


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