In 2005 a full-rate production decision to authorize more than 1,200 UH-60M aircraft was scheduled for 2007, and indeed, on Dec 12/07, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. signed a 5-year, multi-service contract in Huntsville, AL for a minimum of 537 helicopters to be delivered to the U.S. Army and Navy. The “Multi-Year VII” contract covers UH-60M Black Hawk troop transport and light cargo helicopters, and HH-60M SAR(Search And Rescue) / MEDEVAC(MEDical EVACuation) helicopters. These 2 platforms will replace the Army’s current UH-60 Black Hawk fleet, while the US Navy’s MH-60S and MH-60R Seahawk aircraft will replace the Navy’s existing SH-60B/F Seahawks, HH-60 CSAR(Combat Search and Rescue), UH-3H Sea Kings, CH-46D Sea Knights, and HH-1N Huey SAR helicopters. These new helicopter types are also available to Foreign Military Sales class customers, under the American contract’s advantageous pricing and terms.
Now, substantial orders are being placed – and DID has updated totals and breakdowns.
The USA and NATO have invested billions in their E-3 AWACS(Airborne early Warning And Control System) radar planes, whose rotating radar and on-board computers provide a complete aerial picture in a radius that encompasses hundreds of thousands of square miles. Their role as surveillance planes, command and control centers, and communications relays is invaluable – if you can fly them.
The aircraft are based on Boeing’s 707-320B jetliners, and deliveries began in 1977. Over the years, their radars and command centers have received improvements, but it’s getting harder to find parts for their pilot flight deck avionics, and international regulations for civil airspace are changing. The USAF’s 707-based KC-135 aerial tankers have had to change, in order to adapt. Now it’s the E-3s’ turn, and NATO’s pooled fleet has joined the program. Enter… the DRAGON.
Support for the US Navy’s alternative fuel initiatives may be wavering in Congress, but for now the DoN keeps going. The RIMPAC 2012 exercise coming up this summer will include a “Great Green Fleet” demonstration with the use of fuel blends that include biofuels.