early helicopter technology
early helicopter development
contributions of the autogyro
Heinrich Focke Fa 61W
Anton Flettner Kolibri
Jacques Bréguet Gyroplane
Igor Sikorsky VS-300
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Bell UH-1 "Huey"
M.A.S.H. medevac helicopters
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Sikorsky UH-60/S-70 Black Hawk
assault helicopters
Soviet and Russian helicopters
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Sikorsky UH-60/S-70 Black Hawk Family

Sikorsky S-70 family of helicopters, designated the H-60 in U.S. military use, is the most popular U.S. military helicopter next to the Bell UH-1 or Huey and is gradually replacing it in many military roles. The UH-60 Black Hawk has already completely replaced the Huey in the U.S. Army as the primary troop transport and is gradually replacing it in the Reserves and National Guard. Variants of the S-70, with names like Seahawk, Jayhawk and Pave Hawk, are also used by the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force and are in heavy use around the world. They serve in a wide range of transport and support roles, including search and rescue, antisubmarine and maritime surveillance, and special tasks. The Customs Service and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) also use the aircraft. It is the most popular U.S. military helicopter produced in the last two decades, with more than 2,400 in use.

The Sikorsky Model S-70 was developed in response to the Army's 1972 request for a Utility Tactical Transport System (UTTAS) helicopter. The UTTAS design criteria were based upon U.S. experience during Vietnam. In particular, the Army wanted a helicopter with crew survivability features and engines, rotors, and transmission designed to be better capable of taking damage than the Huey. Sikorsky equipped the S-70 with a crashworthy cabin "box," an armour-plated cockpit, self-sealing fuel tanks, and wheeled landing gear that could absorb heavy vertical impacts. The S-70, unlike most Hueys, has two engines, either of which can keep the helicopter in the air if the other fails. It also has widely-separated redundant electronic and hydraulic systems. It has four main rotor blades and a tail rotor that is tilted at an angle and therefore provides some additional lift.

Perhaps the most unusual thing about the S-70 is its shape. Unlike the Huey, it is long and low-set. This design was dictated by the requirement that the helicopter be able to fit inside a C-130 Hercules cargo plane without removing the rotors. Two of the craft had to be capable of fitting inside a C-141 and six within a C-5 Galaxy. The low ceiling of these aircraft required a helicopter that was wider and squatter than a Huey.

The first S-70, designated the YUH-60A by the Army, competed against the Boeing Vertol YUH-61A in 1975. It was declared the winner of the UTTAS competition in December 1976, and entered production soon after. The first production UH-60A Black Hawk was delivered to the Army in 1979. By the time production of the A model ended in October 1989, Sikorsky had produced 976 aircraft for the Army. The UH-60A was succeeded by the UH-60L, equipped with more powerful engines, a system for reducing the heat generated by the engines, and provision for a stronger external cargo hook. Both versions carry eleven fully armed troops and a crew of three. A dedicated medevac version was also developed, equipped like most private medevac helicopters and capable of carrying six patients.

The UH-60A has a rotor diameter of 53.7 feet (16.4 meters), is 64.8 feet (19.8 meters) long, and 16.8 feet (5.1 meters) high. It weighs 10,649 pounds (4,830 kilograms) when empty, has a maximum weight of 20,250 pounds (9,185 kilograms), and carries a crew of three. Two 1,543-shaft horsepower (1,150.6-kilowatt) GE T700-GE-700 turboshaft engines provide power. Its maximum speed is 182 miles per hour (293 kilometres per hour), can reach an altitude of 19,300 feet (5,883 meters), and has a range of 373 miles (600 kilometres).

The UH-60 first saw combat during the 1983 U.S. invasion of the island of Grenada. According to the Army, it proved it could survive significant damage and still fly. It also proved quite capable eight years later during the Persian Gulf War, when nearly half of the Army's total number of Black Hawks participated. Only two were lost in combat. During the U.S. mission to Somalia in 1993, the Black Hawk proved vulnerable to rocket-propelled grenades fired from rooftops and several were lost.

The U.S. Navy also adopted a version of the H-60 named Seahawk as a multi-role combat helicopter known as Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) III. The LAMPS III was intended to perform anti-submarine and surface attack missions, as well as other utility duties and search and rescue at sea. The SH-60B Seahawk entered service in 1983. It was soon followed by the SH-60F, which replaced the Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King in the anti-submarine role. The SH-60F is equipped with a sonar that it lowers into the water on a cable (known as a "dipping sonar" or "dunking sonar") to listen for submarines. The Navy also developed a search and rescue version known as the HH-60H Rescue Hawk. The Navy plans to modify the SH-60B and SH-60F to a common standard, known as the SH-60R. It also intends to procure a cargo-carrying version known as the CH-60S. In addition, a similar version has been proposed for Marine Corps use.

The MH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter a twin-engine, medium lift, utility, and assault helicopter used by the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard as well as by many militaries worldwide. The army's UH-60L Black Hawk can carry 11 soldiers or 2,600 pounds (1,170 kg) of cargo or sling load 9,000 pounds (4,050 kg) of cargo. The air force received the MH-60G Pave Hawk in 1982 while the Coast Guard received the HH-60J Jayhawk in 1992.

The U.S. Coast Guard also developed an H-60 version for search and rescue operations that now is its primary search and rescue aircraft. It is designated the HH-60J Jayhawk, has a search/weather radar, and can be equipped with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) turret that provides excellent night vision. The U.S. Air Force operates the MH-60G Pave Hawk special operations aircraft and the HH-60G rescue aircraft. Although similar to the Army's UH-60L, they are equipped with a FLIR turret for night operations and an in-flight refuelling probe, allowing the helicopter to refuel in the air during long missions.

The Sikorsky UH 60-L Black Hawk has a stronger external cargo hook than earlier versions.  

Sikorsky has marketed the S-70 to various militaries around the world. Spain, Japan, Australia, Greece, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey fly naval variants. Army variants are flown by the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Jordan, Bahrain, Brunei, Columbia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, Hong Kong, Argentina, Israel, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Malaysia, Kuwait and Czechoslovakia, and others. Japan produces both versions under license, and Turkey and South Korea co-produce them as well. Civilian versions are also in operation, usually for VIP transport or law enforcement purposes.

Although the Black Hawk is a highly capable aircraft as a successor to the venerable Huey, it has some drawbacks that make it unsuccessful commercially. In particular, it is more expensive than the Huey and more complicated. It also initially suffered from avionics problems in Europe, where German power lines affected its electronics systems. Also, its two engines require more maintenance than the Huey's single engine. Furthermore, for some civilian roles and some foreign militaries, the S-70 is larger and more sophisticated than necessary, with the Huey being more suited for several missions. The Black Hawk and its derivatives have clearly become the most popular U.S. military multipurpose helicopter in use today.