Air Platforms

AUSA 2018: Sikorsky testing autonomous technology on Black Hawk in preparation for FVL

09 October 2018

Sikorsky is testing autonomous technology on a UH-60A Black Hawk in preparation for testing on its FVL aircraft. Source: US Navy

Key Points

  • Sikorsky is testing autonomous technology on its Black Hawk helicopter in preparation for testing on its FVL aircraft
  • The company looks to help pilots better perform mission in challenging environments

Sikorsky is testing autonomous technology on a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter in preparation for eventually using the technology on its Future Vertical Lift (FVL) platform, according to a company official.

Chris Dowse, Sikorsky director of army systems, told Jane's on 8 October at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, DC, that Sikorsky is using the Black Hawk as a testbed to develop an optimally piloted vehicle where challenging tasks are taken out of pilots' hands so they can focus on the mission at hand. Sikorsky is focusing on environmental missions such as difficult landings, degraded visual environments (DVE), and rescue missions in hostile areas.

Dowse said Sikorsky installed its technology on one of its S-76 aircraft and is retrofitting a UH-60A with the autonomous technology. While the company is not yet flying the optimally manned aircraft, Dowse said it will fly within the next year.

As Sikorsky modernises and upgrades the Black Hawk, Dowse said that aircraft will serve as the testbed for technologies the company wants to add to its SB>1 Defiant FVL aircraft, which it is developing with Boeing. Dowse said challenges involved with installing autonomy on helicopters is getting the crew comfortable with taking functions out of their hands and using this technology properly.

Dowse said Sikorsky has been developing the autonomous software for several years. In addition, Dowse said parent company Lockheed Martin is working on an open architecture (OA) cockpit that will utilise autonomy as well as health and usage monitoring.

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