Procurement: Civilian Black Hawk For Commandos

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May 2, 2013: Colombia has bought two more American S-70i helicopters. This is the export version of the U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk transport helicopter. The S-70i is for foreign military customers and is customized and equipped according to customer requirements. S70is are built under license in Poland.

Colombia received five S-70is in January. Colombia is using these S-70is for its special operations troops and has them modified for that purpose. The two just ordered are to be delivered later this year. Colombia is the first South American country to buy the S-70i. The Colombian military and national police already have 96 UH-60L helicopters.

All UH-60s are militarized versions (UH-60, HH-60, MH-60) of the Sikorsky S-70, a 1970s design that won the competition to replace the older UH-1 "Huey." 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. S-70i models are often equipped like the most recent versions of the UH-60 used by the American military.

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 they 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 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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