Created in 1974, the Black Hawk helicopter is one of the most effective helicopters in the American arsenal. With the capacity to carry up to 20, this armored aviator has spent decades as a choice military aircraft.
Read on to learn more about the history of the Black Hawk helicopter and why it was one of the boldest advancements in American military design.
Black Hawk Beginnings: The Sikorsky Company
The Black Hawk helicopter is a product of the Sikorsky company, which was started by Igor Sikorsky in 1923. Sikorsky was responsible for creating the Sikorsky R-4, the first military helicopter used by the United States Army Air Force.
Also known as the Hoverfly, the R-4 had a short production that ended in 1944, however, Sikorsky’s legacy was only beginning. In 1957, Sikorsky’s company began supplying the United States with what would be the first presidential helicopter. This unit is also known by the call sign, Marine One.
The recognition received by Sikorsky’s company only fueled their advancements as they strove to innovate aerospace technology.
The Introduction of the Black Hawk Helicopter
Created in 1974, the UH-60 was delivered to the United States Army as one of four prototypes proposed as a replacement for Bell Helicopter’s UH-1 Iroquois. US military experience garnered in Vietnam made the need for fleet upgrades apparent.
With a maximum capacity of 22,000 lbs, the Black Hawk was designed to carry 12 fully equipped military personnel into battle. This, however, could be modified to carry up to 20 lightly equipped personnel by removing 8 of the helicopter’s onboard seats.
Military helicopter parts saw dependable features such as armored plating on both the pilot and co-pilot’s seats and the Black Hawk’s main rotator and tail rotator systems also saw significant upgrades from the now obsolete UH-1 Iroquois model.
Current models are powered by two General Electric T700-GE-701 turboshaft engines, have a never excess speed of 222 mph and are equipped with the capacity to host a variety of armament capabilities.
In 1976, the US Army made its decision and selected the Black Hawk as it’s choice replacement. Soon they would introduce the Sikorsky UH-60A to the US army as one of the most important members of its fleet.
Variants and Upgrades
Since it’s introduction, the Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter has seen many advancements and improvements. These include models designed for VIP/head of state transportation, medevac, search and rescue, and a variety of special ops missions.
With over two thousand Black Hawk helicopters currently in use, the American military employs the largest fleet of Black Hawk helicopters. 29 other countries also currently feature this impressive helicopter in their military fleet.
Civilian available models of the Black Hawk are also available to the public, as well as Sikorsky parts capable of modifying the UH-60 to meet demand.