Aircrews with the Wisconsin National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment operated UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters Sept. 14, 2023, at Fort McCoy for a training operation at the installation.
Members of the unit regularly complete training operations at Fort McCoy and the unit also supports numerous training events at the installation each year.
According to the Army fact sheet for the Black Hawk, its mission is to provide air assault, general support, aeromedical evacuation, command and control, and special operations support to combat, stability, and support operations.
The UH-60 also is the Army’s utility tactical transport helicopter. The versatile helicopter has enhanced the overall mobility of the Army due to dramatic improvements in troop capacity and cargo lift capability over the years as well, the fact sheet states. Now in its fourth decade of service, the Black Hawk was developed as a result of the Army’s requirement in 1972 for a simple, robust, and reliable utility helicopter system to satisfy projected air-mobile requirements around the globe.
Named after Native American war chief and leader of the Sauk tribe in the Midwest, Black Hawk, the first UH-60A was accepted by the Army in 1978, and entered service in 1979 when it was delivered to aviation components of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, the fact sheet states. Since that time, the Black Hawk has accumulated more than 9 million total fleet hours and has supported Soldiers in every major contingency operation the Army has executed, including Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East.
Today, the Army continues to integrate emerging technology enhancements into the Black Hawk fleet to increase the performance, reliability, availability, and maintainability of the platform through addition of technologies such as the integration of the improved turbine engine; upgrades to the airframe, including an improved troop seat for additional crash-worthiness; and a lightweight, composite all-moving tail.
“Developing and fielding an aircraft that has earned and maintained an extraordinary reputation of remarkable service supporting Soldiers over a full spectrum of military operations these past 40 years is the direct result of the incredible efforts of all the government and industry teammates who have supported the Black Hawk program throughout the history of the program,” said Col. Billy Jackson, program manager for Program Executive Office for Aviation’s Utility Helicopters Program Office. “I’m exceptionally proud of this team and the herculean effort everyone puts in managing a very complex program with such sustained success.”
According to the Army Program Executive Office for Aviation, today, the UH-60 Black Hawk makes up the Army’s largest rotary wing fleet with more than 2,100 airframes in the current inventory. As production of the most current H-60M model continues, over the coming years the Army will divest its remaining UH-60A and L aircraft, to be replaced by 760 UH-60Vs.
With multiple versions of the H-60 Black Hawk in service, the helicopter is considered the “workhorse” of Army aviation. Besides being the U.S Army’s primary tactical transport helicopter, approximately 1,200 H-60s operate in 30 partner and allied nations.
“For nearly half a century the Black Hawk has served remarkably as the primary medium lift, multi-role helicopter for the U.S. Army. With planned major upgrades on the horizon, the platform will be a key component of the Army aviation fleet through 2054,” Army Program Executive Office for Aviation officials said.
In July and August 2022, the Utility Helicopters Project Office completed a “successful Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) of the UH-60V Black Hawk Helicopter at Fort McCoy,” as stated in a story by Paul Stevenson with the Office in August 2022 at https://www.dvidshub.net/news/427747/us-army-completes-uh-60v-initial-operational-test-evaluation.
“The UH-60V is an upgraded variant of the legacy UH-60L with a digital glass cockpit and integrated avionics suite,” the article states. “The purpose of the test and evaluation (was) to demonstrate and assess the degree to which the aircraft meets its designated requirements and set the conditions for the full rate production point. The IOT&E began July 5 and during three weeks of preliminary testing, pilots flew more than 120 hours with five UH-60V helicopters under realistic battlefield conditions.”
(Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office with information supported from the Army Program Executive Office for Aviation.)