UH-60 / S-70A Black Hawk Multi-Mission Helicopter

UH-60 / S-70A Black Hawk Multi-Mission Helicopter

The UH-60 Black Hawk, developed by Sikorsky, has been operational in the US Army since 1978.

Variants of the Black Hawk are operational or have been ordered by 25 international customers: the Argentine Air Force, Royal Australian Army, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Colombian Air Force, Egypt, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan Self Defence Force, Jordan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, People’s Republic of China, Royal Saudi Land Forces Army Aviation Command, the Turkish Jandarma, Spain, The Philippine Air Force, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The S-70A helicopter is the export version of the multi-mission UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter

More than 2,000 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter variants are in service with the US Military and more than 600 exported.

Black Hawk helicopters have logged over four million flying hours, including a diverse range of combat missions in Grenada, Panama, in the liberation of Kuwait, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and numerous humanitarian and rescue missions including operations in Bosnia.

The helicopters are manufactured at the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation production facilities based in Stratford, Connecticut, USA. Licensed production of Black Hawk helicopters is also carried out in Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The primary mission of the Black Hawk helicopter is as a troop carrier and logistical support aircraft, but in addition, the helicopter can be configured to carry out medical evacuation, command-and-control, search-and-rescue, armed escort, electronic warfare and executive transport missions.

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter design

Black Hawk has low detectability and outstanding nap-of-the-earth flight capabilities. The aircraft is tolerant to small arms fire and most high-explosive, medium-calibre (23mm) projectiles. The flight controls are ballistically hardened and the helicopter is equipped with redundant electric and hydraulic systems.

“The S-70A Black Hawk cabin provides accommodation for 11 fully equipped troops or four litters.”

The helicopter has the ability to absorb high-impact velocities. The fuel system is crash-resistant and self-sealing. The crew seats and the landing gear are energy absorbing.

UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter upgrade programme

In April 2001, the US Army approved an upgrade programme for more than 1,500 Black Hawks to UH-60M standard. The first flight of the UH60M took place in September 2003 and three helicopters have been delivered for the test programme.

“The UH-60M features new wide chord composite spar main rotor blades.”

The US Army initially decided to opt for new build helicopters rather than upgrade existing airframes.

The new-build helicopter entered low-rate initial production (LRIP) in April 2005. The first of 22 new UH-60Ms was delivered in July 2006. Initial operational evaluation (OPEVAL) was successful and a decision on full-rate production of 1,227 helicopters was authorised in December 2007 with the award of a five-year contract. Under this contract six UH-60M utility and 20 HH-60M combat rescue helicopters were ordered in March 2008.

In December 2007, the US Army ordered 11 low-rate initial production (LRIP) upgrade UH60M. The UH-60M upgrade completed its maiden flight in August 2008. More than 950 aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by 2025. As of July 2012, Sikorsky had delivered 400 UH-60M helicopters.

The UH-60M features new wide chord composite spar main rotor blades (which provide 500lb more lift than the current UH-60L blade), strengthened fuselage and advanced infrared suppression.

The fly-by-wire glass cockpit has a digitised 1553 bus-based avionics suite with four Rockwell Collins multi-function displays, four-axis fully-coupled autopilot, two Canadian Marconi (CMC) electronic flight management systems, dual Honeywell embedded GPS inertial (EGI) navigation system, digital moving map and Goodrich integrated vehicle health management system (IHVMS).

The new General Electric T700-GE-701D engine (with full authority digital electronic control) is more powerful and provides additional lift during sling load operations.

S-70A Black Hawk helicopter

The S-70A Black Hawk helicopter is flown by a crew of three: the pilot and the copilot at the flight deck and one crew member in the cabin. The S-70A helicopter is equipped with a glass cockpit and digital avionics.

In addition, S-70 customers may select a digital automated flight computer system (AFCS) to simplify pilot workload. An electronic flight information system (EFIS) provides primary pilotage and navigation displays for the aircrew.

S-70A weapons

The S-70 is qualified as a launch platform for the laser-guided Hellfire anti-armour missile. The Black Hawk can carry 16 Hellfire missiles using the external stores support system (ESSS). The ESSS has the capability of carrying a 10,000lb payload of missiles, rockets, cannons and electronic countermeasures pods. The helicopter can also accommodate additional missiles, supplies or personnel inside the cabin.

The S-70 can mount 7.62mm or .50-calibre machine guns in the windows.

US Army Black Hawks are fitted with the Goodrich AN/AVR-2B laser threat warning system.


The cabin provides accommodation for 11 fully equipped troops or four litters (stretcher patients) with a medical officer for medical evacuation missions.

“The S-70A helicopter is tolerant to small arms fire.”

The cabin is equipped with a ventilation and heating system. The S-70A can carry external loads up to 9,000lb (4,072kg) on the cargo hook, for example, a 155mm howitzer. The main cabin can be cleared of troop seats for transportation of cargo. Additional stores can be carried on the external stores support system.


The S-70A is equipped with a voice and data communications suite including VHF, UHF communications, an identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder, secure voice communications, satellite communications and an intercom system.


The S-70A is equipped with two General Electric turboshaft engines, type T700-GE-701C. US Army Blackhawks are being fitted with the latest version, the 701D, which is rated at 2,000shp.

The internal fuel tanks have a capacity of 1,360l. Auxiliary fuel can be carried with 1,400l in two internal fuel tanks and 1,740l externally.


The UH-60 comes in many variants, and many different modifications. The U.S. Army variants can be fitted with the stub wings to carry additional fuel tanks or weapons. Variants may have different capabilities and equipment to fulfill different roles.

Utility variants

  • YUH-60A: Initial test and evaluation version for U.S. Army. First flight on 17 October 1974; three built.
  • UH-60A Black Hawk: Original U.S. Army version, carrying a crew of four and up to 11 equipped troops. Equipped with T700-GE-700 engines. Produced 1977–1989. U.S. Army is equipping UH-60As with more powerful T700-GE-701D engines and also upgrading A-models to UH-60L standard.
  • UH-60C Black Hawk: Modified version for command and control (C2) missions.
  • CH-60E: Proposed troop transport variant for the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • UH-60L Black Hawk: UH-60A with upgraded T700-GE-701C engines, improved durability gearbox, and updated flight control system. Produced 1989–2007. UH-60Ls are also being equipped with the GE T700-GE-701D engine. The U.S. Army Corpus Christi Army Depot is upgrading UH-60A helicopters to the UH-60L configuration. In July 2018, Sierra Nevada Corporation proposed upgrading some converted UH-60L helicopters for the U.S. Air Force’s UH-1N replacement program.
  • UH-60V Black Hawk: Upgraded version of the UH-60L with the electronic displays (glass cockpit) of the UH-60M. Upgrades performed by Northrop Grumman featuring a centralized processor with a partitioned, modular operational flight program enabling capabilities to be added as software-only modifications.
  • UH-60M Black Hawk: Improved design wide chord rotor blades, T700-GE-701D engines (max 2,000 shp or 1,500 kW each), improved durability gearbox, Integrated Vehicle Health Management System (IVHMS) computer, and new glass cockpit. Production began in 2006. Planned to replace older U.S. Army UH-60s.
  • UH-60M Upgrade Black Hawk: UH-60M with fly-by-wire system and Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit suite. Flight testing began in August 2008.

Special purpose

  • EH-60A Black Hawk: UH-60A with modified electrical system and stations for two electronic systems mission operators. All examples of type have been converted back to standard UH-60A configuration.
  • YEH-60B Black Hawk: UH-60A modified for special radar and avionics installations, prototype for stand-off target acquisition system.
  • EH-60C Black Hawk: UH-60A modified with special electronics equipment and external antenna.
  • EUH-60L (no official name assigned): UH-60L modified with additional mission electronic equipment for Army Airborne C2.
  • EH-60L Black Hawk: EH-60A with major mission equipment upgrade.
  • UH-60Q Black Hawk: UH-60A modified for medical evacuation. The UH-60Q is named DUSTOFF for “dedicated unhesitating service to our fighting forces”.
  • HH-60L (no official name assigned): UH-60L extensively modified with medical mission equipment. Components include an external rescue hoist, integrated patient configuration system, environmental control system, on-board oxygen system (OBOGS), and crashworthy ambulatory seats.
  • HH-60M Black Hawk: UH-60M with medical mission equipment (medevac version) for U.S. Army.
  • HH-60U: USAF UH-60M version modified with an electro-optical sensor and rescue hoist. Three in use by Air Force pilots and special mission aviators since 2011. Has 85% commonality with the HH-60W.
  • HH-60W: Modified version of the UH-60M for the U.S. Air Force as a Combat Rescue Helicopter to replace HH-60G Pave Hawks with greater fuel capacity and more internal cabin space, dubbed the “60-Whiskey”. Deliveries to begin in 2019.
  • MH-60A Black Hawk: 30 UH-60As modified with additional avionics, night vision capable cockpit, FLIR, M134 door guns, internal auxiliary fuel tanks and other Special Operations mission equipment in early 1980s for U.S. Army. Equipped with T700-GE-701 engines. Variant was used by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The MH-60As were replaced by MH-60Ls beginning in the early 1990s and passed to the Air National Guard.
  • MH-60K Black Hawk: Special operations modification first ordered in 1988 for use by the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (“Night Stalkers”). Equipped with the in-flight refueling probe, and T700-GE-701C engines. More advanced than the MH-60L, the K-model also includes an integrated avionics system (glass cockpit), AN/APQ-174B terrain-following radar, color weather map, improved weapons capability, and various defensive systems.
  • MH-60L Black Hawk: Special operations modification, used by the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (“Night Stalkers”), based on the UH-60L with T700-701C engines. It was developed as an interim version in the late 1980s pending fielding of the MH-60K. Equipped with many of the systems used on MH-60K, including FLIR, color weather map, auxiliary fuel system, and laser rangefinder/designator. A total of 37 MH-60Ls were built and some 10 had received an in-flight refueling probe by 2003.
  • MH-60L DAP: The Direct Action Penetrator (DAP) is a special operations modification of the baseline MH-60L, operated by the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The DAP is configured as a gunship, with no troop-carrying capacity. The DAP is equipped with ESSS or ETS stub wings, each capable of carrying configurations of the M230 Chain Gun 30 mm automatic cannon, 19-shot Hydra 70 rocket pod, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles, GAU-19 gun pods, and M134 minigun pods, M134D miniguns are used as door guns.
  • MH-60M Black Hawk: Special operations version of UH-60M for U.S. Army. Features the Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) glass cockpit and more powerful YT706-GE-700 engines. All special operations Black Hawks to be modernized to MH-60M standard by 2015.
  • MH-60 Black Hawk stealth helicopter: One of two (known) specially modified MH-60s used in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan on 1 May 2011 was damaged in a hard landing, and was subsequently destroyed by U.S. forces. Subsequent reports state that the Black Hawk destroyed was a previously unconfirmed, but rumored, modification of the design with reduced noise signature and stealth technology. The modifications are said to add several hundred pounds to the base helicopter including edge alignment panels, special coatings and anti-radar treatments for the windshields.
  • UH-60A RASCAL: NASA-modified version for the Rotorcraft-Aircrew Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory; a US$25M program for the study of helicopter maneuverability in three programs, Superaugmented Controls for Agile Maneuvering Performance (SCAMP), Automated Nap-of-the-Earth (ANOE) and Rotorcraft Agility and Pilotage Improvement Demonstration (RAPID). The UH-60A RASCAL performed a fully autonomous flight on 5 November 2012. U.S. Army personnel were on board, but the flying was done by the helicopter. During a two-hour flight, the Black Hawk featured terrain sensing, trajectory generation, threat avoidance, and autonomous flight control. It was fitted with a 3D-LZ laser detection and ranging (LADAR) system. The autonomous flight was performed between 200 and 400 feet. Upon landing, the onboard technology was able to pinpoint a safe landing zone, hover, and safely bring itself down.
  • OPBH: On 11 March 2014, Sikorsky successfully conducted the first flight demonstration of their Optionally Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH), a milestone part of the company’s Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter (MURAL) program to provide autonomous cargo delivery for the U.S. Army. The helicopter used the company’s Matrix technology (software to improve features of autonomous, optionally-piloted VTOL aircraft) to perform autonomous hover and flight operations under the control of an operator using a man-portable Ground Control Station (GCS). The MURAL program is a cooperative effort between Sikorsky, the US Army Aviation Development Directorate (ADD), and the US Army Utility Helicopters Project Office (UH PO). The purpose of creating an optionally-manned Black Hawk is to make the aircraft autonomously carry out resupply missions and expeditionary operations while increasing sorties and maintaining crew rest requirements and leaving pilots to focus more on sensitive operations.
  • VH-60D Night Hawk: VIP-configured HH-60D, used for Presidential transport by USMC. T700-GE-401C engines. Variant was later redesignated VH-60N.
  • VH-60N White Hawk “White Top”: Modified UH-60A with some features from the SH-60B/F Seahawks. Is one of the VIP-configured USMC helicopter models that perform Presidential and VIP transport as Marine One. The VH-60N entered service in 1988 and nine helicopters were delivered.
  • VH-60M Black Hawk “Gold Top”: Heavily modified UH-60M used for executive transport. Members of the Joint Chiefs, Congressional leadership, and other DoD personnel are flown on these exclusively by the 12th Aviation Battalion at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.


Sikorsky military model for the export market:

  • S-70A-1 Desert Hawk: Export version for the Royal Saudi Land Forces.
  • S-70A-L1 Desert Hawk: Aeromedical evacuation version for the Royal Saudi Land Forces.
  • S-70A-5 Black Hawk: Export version for the Philippine Air Force.
  • S-70A-6 Black Hawk: Export version for Thailand.
  • S-70A-9 Black Hawk: Export version for Australia, assembled under licence by Hawker de Havilland. First eight delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force, subsequently transferred to the Australian Army; remainder delivered straight to the Army after rotary-wing assets divested by the Air Force in 1989.
  • S-70A-11 Black Hawk: Export version for the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
  • S-70A-12 Black Hawk: Search and rescue model for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force and Maritime Self Defense Force. Also known as the UH-60J.
  • S-70A-14 Black Hawk: Export version for Brunei.
  • S-70A-16 Black Hawk: Engine test bed for the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM 332.
  • S-70A-17 Black Hawk: Export version for Turkey.
  • S-70A-18 Black Hawk: UH-60P and HH-60P for Republic of Korea Armed Forces built under license.
  • Sikorsky/Westland S-70-19 Black Hawk: This version is built under license in the United Kingdom by Westland. Also known as the WS-70.
  • S-70A-20 Black Hawk: VIP transport version for Thailand.
  • S-70A-21 Black Hawk: Export version for Egypt.
  • S-70A-22 Black Hawk: VH-60P for South Korea built under license. Used for VIP transport by the Republic of Korea Air Force. Its fuselage is tipped with white to distinguish from normal HH-60P.
  • S-70A-24 Black Hawk: Export version for Mexico.
  • S-70A-26 Black Hawk: Export version for Morocco.
  • S-70A-27 Black Hawk: Search and rescue version for the Hong Kong Government Flying Service; three built.
  • S-70A-28D Black Hawk: Export version for Turkish Army.
  • S-70A-30 Black Hawk: Export version for Argentine Air Force, used as a VIP transport helicopter by the Presidential fleet; one built.
  • S-70A-33 Black Hawk: Export version for Royal Brunei Air Force.
  • S-70A-39 Black Hawk: VIP transport version for Chile; one built.
  • S-70A-42 Black Hawk: Export version for Austria.
  • S-70A-43 Black Hawk: Export version for Royal Thai Army.
  • S-70A-50 Black Hawk: Export version for Israel; 15 built.
  • S-70C-2 Black Hawk: Export version for People’s Republic of China; 24 built.
  • S-70i Black Hawk: International military version assembled by Sikorsky’s subsidiary, PZL Mielec in Poland.

Specifications (UH-60M)

Crew 2 flight crew + 2 loadmaster/gunners
Capacity 2,640 lb (1,200 kg) of cargo internally, including 11 troops or 6 stretchers, or 9,000 lb (4,100 kg) of cargo externally
Length (rotors running)
64 ft 10 in (19.76 m)
Height 16 ft 10 in (5.13 m)
Main rotor diameter 53 ft 8 in (16.36 m)
Loaded weight  
Empty weight 10,624 lb (4,819 kg)
Max take off weight 23,500 lb (10,659 kg)
Maximum speed (Vne)
159 kn (183 mph, 294 km/h)
Cruising speed at sea level
150 kn (170 mph, 280 km/h)
Ascent speed at sea level
1,315 ft/min (6.68 m/s)
Ceiling in service
19,000 ft (5,800 m)
Passable distance at sea level with standard reserve
320 nmi (370 mi, 590 km)
Powerplant 2 × General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft engines, 1,890 shp (1,410 kW) each


  • Afghan Air Force
  • Albanian Air Force – 3 on order)
  • Australian Army Aviation
  • Austrian Air Force
  • Royal Bahraini Air Force
  • Brazil
    • Brazilian Air Force
    • Brazilian Army
  • Royal Brunei Air Force
  • Chilean Air Force
  • People’s Liberation Army (China)
  • Colombia
    • Colombian Air Force
    • Colombian Army
  • Croatian Air Force – 2 on order; 2 more planned
  • Egyptian Air Force
  • Israeli Air Force
  • Japan
    • Japan Air Self-Defence Force
    • Japan Ground Self-Defence Force
    • Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force
  • Royal Jordanian Air Force
  • Lithuanian Air Force – 4 UH-60Ms on order; deliveries are to begin in late 2024.
  • Royal Malaysian Air Force
  • Mexican Air Force
  • Philippine Air Force – 16 S-70i on order
  • Polish Special Forces – 4 S-70i on order
  • Saudi Arabia
    • Royal Saudi Air Force
    • Royal Saudi Land Forces – 37 UH-60L
  • South Korea
    • Republic of Korea Air Force
    • Republic of Korea Army
  • Slovak Air Force
  • Swedish Air Force
  • Taiwan (Republic of China)
    • Republic of China Air Force
    • Republic of China Army
  • Thailand
    • Royal Thai Army
    • Royal Thai Air Force – 5 S-70i on order
  • Tunisian Air Force
  • Turkey
    • Turkish Air Force – 6 T-70s on order
    • Turkish Army – 57 T-70 variant in use. 50+ more on order. Produced under license by TAI.
  • United Arab Emirates Air Force
  • United States
UH-60 / S-70A Black Hawk Multi-Mission Helicopter
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UH-60 / S-70A Black Hawk Multi-Mission Helicopter
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