Star SAFIREs for H-60 MEDEVAC HelicoptersSep 26, 2011 12:03 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
Sikorsky’s H-60 Hawk family has become the backbone of the US Army and Navy’s helicopter force, with a number of fielded variants. The USAF’s HH-60 is well known for its medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) role, as well as its combat search and rescue functions. The US Army also operates dedicated MEDEVAC models. The UH-60Qs include a 6 patient litter system, on-board oxygen generation, medical suction system, and other advanced medical capabilities. They are complemented by more recent HH-60Ls, and the entire fleet will eventually be recapitalized using new HH-60M MEDEVAC models.
The HH-60M’s higher power rating might make them somewhat more useful in hot and/or high altitude conditions like Afghanistan. In that theater, H-60 helicopters have taken a back seat to larger machines like Boeing’s H-47 Chinooks, the USMC’s CH-53E Super Stallions, and Eurocopter’s Super Puma/Cougar series. In the mountainous altitudes around Tora Bora, for instance, the California Army National Guard’s 126th Medical Co. (Air Ambulance) reportedly had to use its UH-60Ls stripped of their heavy litter carousels. One area where usefulness can receive quick improvements across the entire fleet, however, involves surveillance and visualization.
FLIR for the MEDEVACs
Many UH-60Qs and early HH-60Ls carry FLIR Systems’ Star SAFIRE I stabilized surveillance turrets mounted in their nose, offering high magnification viewing and infrared sensors. New HH-60Ls have the AN/AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE II, with improved sensors and laser rangefinding/targeting options. Rotor and Wing reports that during one night mission in Afghanistan, an HH-60L crew was asked to use its turret to identify a target that was too indistinct for the systems on its escorting AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.
A program is underway to equip all Army MEDEVAC Black Hawks with Star SAFIRE II turrets. This will give them the ability to operate by day or night across a wider range of weather conditions, extend their search and rescue capabilities, and offer a tactical capability boost for their formations.
Contracts & Key Events
Jan 26/11: FLIR Systems, Inc. announces a $15.8 million delivery order for Star SAFIRE II systems to support the U.S. Army’s UH-60 MEDEVAC program. Work under this contract will be performed out of FLIR’s facilities in Wilsonville, OR, with deliveries expected to be completed within the next 12 months.
April 8/10: FLIR Systems, Inc. announces a $12.4 million delivery order for its Star SAFIRE II systems to support the U.S. Army’s UH-60 MEDEVAC program. Work under this contract will be performed at FLIR’s facilities in Wilsonville, OR, with deliveries expected to be completed within the next 12 months. The firm adds that:
“This order adds to the more than 200 Star SAFIRE systems already deployed on UH/HH-60 Medevac helicopters.”
Sept 21/09: FLIR Systems, Inc. announces a $15.4 million delivery order for its Star SAFIRE II systems to support the U.S. Army’s UH-60 MEDEVAC program. Work under this contract will be performed at FLIR’s facilities in Wilsonville, OR, with deliveries expected to be completed within the next 12 months.
Oct 20/08: FLIR Systems, Inc. announces a $28.9 million order from Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for its Star SAFIRE II turrets, which will be installed on Army MEDEVAC Black Hawk helicopters. FLIR was asked for, but could not supply, further specifics.
Work will be performed at FLIR’s facilities in Wilsonville, OR, and deliveries on this order are expected to begin in 2010. Including previous orders, FLIR expects to deliver $52.7 million of systems through 2011 to this customer, amounting to over 170 systems in the Star SAFIRE product line for use on the US Army’s SAR/ MEDEVAC Black Hawk helicopters.
- Us Army (March 26/07) – How Technology is Saving Lives and Helping the Aviation Warfighter. Includes a very specific account of how the AN/AAQ-22 FLIR (not FUR, as in the article) system made a difference on one Afghan mission.
- Rotor & Wing (Oct 1/04) – Modern Medevac Mobilized: The U.S. Army sends its new air ambulance to war and prepares for the next stage of Dustoff modernization.