The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Joint Aviation Command showcased UH-60M helicopters upgraded to Armed Black Hawk standard for the first time in public during the IDEX 2019 exhibition held in Abu Dhabi in February.
Developed by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky business, the Armed Black Hawk kit provides for the ‘weaponisation’ of the UH-60M utility helicopter. The UAE became the launch customer for the upgrade package under a USD270 million contract announced in February 2011. AMMROC (Advanced Military Maintenance Repair Overhaul Centre) – an Abu Dhabi-based joint venture between the Emirates Defense Industries Company (EDIC), Sikorsky, and Lockheed Martin – is prime contractor for the UAE programme.
Specifically designed for the all-digital UH-60M and S-70i Black Hawk variants, the Armed Black Hawk kit adds stub wings port and starboard for external stores and weapons systems. Each stub wing has two stores pylons for air-to-surface missiles, 7-round or 19-round Hydra 70 rocket pods, and/or miniguns. Alternatively, the stores hardpoints can host 200-gallon external fuel tanks.
A FLIR Systems AN/AAQ-22 BRITE Star II multi-sensor electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) turret is fitted beneath the nose. BRITE Star II incorporates a 3-5 µm thermal imager, a high-resolution colour daylight camera, a laser designator/rangefinder, and a laser pointer.
The Armed Black Hawk kit integrates directly into the UH-60M flight management system, presenting targeting data on the main cockpit multifunction displays and helmet sights. According to Sikorsky, the integration simplifies targeting from standoff distances “by calculating the complex ballistics required for effective airborne gunnery”. It added, “Once the weapons interfaces and [EO/IR] sensor are integrated with the Black Hawk helicopter's existing controls and displays, [customers] can add external wings and weapons of choice in less than three hours to perform a range of medium attack missions."
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