Air Transportation: "M" Is For Modernized

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July 23, 2011: The U.S. Army recently received its 300th new UH-60M Black Hawk transport battlefield helicopter. This is out of a total army order for 1,200. All UH-60s are militarized versions (UH-60, HH-60, MH-60) of the Sikorsky S-70. The army currently has about 2,000 UH-60s and is upgrading the force with the new "M" model. So far, about 2,700 UH-60s have been built.

The UH-60 was introduced in 1979. Five years ago, the U.S. Army introduced the "M" model, which featured several improvements. 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 of the 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.

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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