During MSPO 2016 in Kielce, Lockheed Martin unveiled an armed version of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. This configuration is designed for combat support of land forces (anti-armour, close air support, covering force, escort), however other variants, including MEDEVAC and transport, are available. Representatives of PZL-Mielec, a subsidiary of Sikorsky, said during MSPO 2016 that an armed version is already available for customers and is now being tested in the United States.
At the same time the Black Hawk “gunship” is offered to the Polish Army as an addition to new combat (assault) helicopters and new transport medium-class helicopters which are now being procured by Warsaw. It is worth a reminder that previously an armed Black Hawk was presented to the Polish audience during ANAKONDA 2016 multinational exercises and by PZL Mielec during a media press conference, also this year. However, this is its official debut at MSPO.
With a standard configuration an armed Black Hawk can take up to 13 troops on board without an advanced weapon system. A configuration with an advanced weapon system, with up to 8 troops on board (plus two gunners), includes two M-134 7,62 mm six-barrel rotary machine guns in gunner windows (8,000 rounds in total), sixteen AGM-114R HELLFIRE anti-tank missiles (a launcher can have either two or four rails, up to four launchers), two M261s, and up to 76 Hydra 70 mm rockets (a standard pod can accommodate 7 or 19 Hydra rockets, up to four pods). Every HELLFIRE missile can be replaced by one launcher of DAGR 70 mm missiles (four per one launcher, integration required). Weight of a fully loaded DAGR launcher is 86.2 kg. Range of a DAGR missile is 6 km if launched from a minimal flight ceiling or 12 km if launched from 6,000 metres. The MIL-STD-1760 interface provides flexibility for carrying multiple laser-guided rockets.
Other optional weapons include the GAU-19/A miniguns and the FN M3M 12,7x99 mm machine gun (integration required) with 600 rounds in a standard pod (300 rounds optional). Its effective range is 2,000 metres, while the rate of fire is 950-1100 rounds per minute (rate is regulated). Two GAU-10s have 2,800 rounds in total. Its rate of fire is 1,300 rounds per minute. According to the producer, the Black Hawk helicopter with two M134 guns, eight HELLFIRE missiles and 38 Hydra 70mm rockets, has a ceiling of 6,000m and a maximum speed of 315 km/h.
Black Hawk’s weapon system is integrated by a fire control system provided by Elbit. It is equipped with the MX-10D optoelectronic payload for tactical surveillance and target acquisition.
This is the first time the producer is able to offer a full weapons system on the Black Hawk Helicopter. The previous owner of Sikorsky, UTC, was unable to do so due to internal regulations on arms sale, while Lockheed Martin, a current owner of Sikorsky, is free from such constraints. It is believed that if an armed Black Hawk is selected by Poland, several systems – including missiles – would be replaced by Polish products. During the presentation in Kielce the producer presented a UKM-2000 7.62x51 mm machinegun from the Polish ZM Tarnów as a potential crew-served weapon.