Sikorsky Aircraft was awarded the US Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) contract in 1976 to develop a helicopter to replace the Bell UH-1 Iroquois that had entered service in the 1960's. The first production aircraft (UH-60A) was flown in October of 1978 with the US Army taking delivery of its first Black Hawk in that same month. A total of 1,048 UH-60As were built for the US Army between 1978 and 1989, when production of the UH-60L was initiated. All existing UH-60As have either been rebuilt to the UH-60L standard or have been removed from service.
Airframe and general capabilities
The UH-60 Black Hawk is a twin-engined medium lift utility helicopter. It is equipped with a single 4-bladed rotor and a single 4-bladed tail rotor. The basic crew compliment for the UH-60A is three; pilot, co-pilot, and crewchief. The titanium cored rotor blades are resistant to AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) fire up to 23mm and are equipped with pressurized sensors capable of detecting loss of rotor pressurization (damage.)
The A model was designed to carry 11 combat troops in addition to an crew of three (pilot, co-pilot, crew chief) and was intended to serve in utility, air assault, medivac, command and control, and reconnaissance roles. The Army began converting Black Hawks to the medivac role in 1981. The UH-60 was qualified on the Hellfire AGM-114 ATGM in 1987 as well as the helicopter-borne Volcano mine delivery system (The Volcano is a 6,480-pound system that dispenses 960 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.) Beginning in 1985 the Black Hawk's cockpit lighting was modified to be NVG compatible (new airframes had this incorporated into their production. In 1987 Wire strike protection was added to all aircraft.
The UH-60A utilizes a dragging tail wheel landing gear system, with two non-movable main gear struts, and a rotating lockable tail wheel assembly. For operations in arctic environments, the Black Hawk can be fitted with landing skis.
The UH-60A is equipped with troop accommodations for eight, which can be removed to accommodate four full-sized medical litters. The Black Hawk can transport 11 fully equipped combat soldiers in an assault ready configuration, or 14 in a maximum capacity situation. Maximum troop carrying capacity is 20 lightly equipped personnel. The dedicated medivac variant of the Black Hawk can accommodate 6 litters.
The UH-60A is equipped with a reward sliding and lockable door on each side of the cargo compartment. The external cargo hook is rated to 8,000 pounds (3,630 kg.)
The ESSS (External Stores Support System) consists of two external wing-like assemblies attached to the airframe above the cargo compartment doors. Each ESSS wing is equipped with 2 removable pylons. The wings are rated to 5,000 pounds each, and can accommodate a single 230 gal. fuel tank as well as a single 450 gal. fuel tank (this gives the UH-60A an unrefueled self-deployment range of 1,200 nautical miles. Up to 16 Hellfire missiles can be mounted on the ESSS, and, when coupled with the capability to carry an additional 16 missiles internally, gives an armed Black Hawk the ability to re-arm it self mid-mission.
The UH-60A is equipped with two General Electric T700-GE-701 turboshaft engines rated at 1,560 shaft horsepower each. Internal fuel is stored in two crashworthy fuel tanks and totals 360 gallons. If ESSS equipped, the Black Hawk can carry two 230-gallon external tanks, and can carry up to two additional auxiliary 185-gal. internally in the cargo compartment. The Black Hawk is capable of flying on one engine.
The UH-60A is equipped with VHF-FM, UHF-FM, and VHF-AM/FM radios, as well as encrypted IFF recognition system. For self defense the Black Hawk is equipped with an AN/APR-39 (v) 1 radar warning receiver, as well as an AN/ALQ-144 infrared countermeasures system and chaff/flare dispenser.
While not equipped with any dedicated weapon systems, the UH-60A is equipped with two pintle mounts (one each located on either side of the airframe aft of the flight deck.) These pintles are capable of accepting a variety of weapons, to include the M-60 GP 7.62mm machine gun, the M-240 7.62mm machine gun, the .50 caliber GAU-19/A machine gun, as well as the General Electric M134 7.62mm 6-barreled minigun. Utilizing the ESSS system, the UH-60A can equip up to 16 Hellfire missiles, as well as 2.75" FFAR (folding fin aerial rocket) rocket pods, FIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles, as well as aerial mine delivery systems, such as the volcano and the M56 mine delivery system.
The empty weight of the UH-60A is 11,284 pounds, with an internal cargo capacity of 2,640 pounds. The mission take off weight is 16,994 pounds, while the maximum take off weight is 24,500 pounds. The external cargo carrying capacity (cargo hook) is 8,000 pounds.
The maximum (do not exceed) speed of the UH-60A, at mission weight, is 195 knots (224 miles per hour) while the maximum level speed is 160 knots (182 miles per hour.) The cruising speed is 139 knots (160 miles per hour) and the single engine cruise speed is 105 knots (121 miles per hour.)
The service ceiling is 18,700 feet (5,700m) and the maximum hover ceiling (out of ground effect) is 5,400 feet (1,645m.)
Maximum range of the UH-60A on internal fuel and at maximum take-off weight is 319 nautical miles (368 statute miles.) The maximum range with two 230 ESSS-mounted external tanks is 880 nautical miles (1,012 statute miles) and with two 230 gallon and two 450 gallon tanks is 1,200 nautical miles (1,381 statute miles.)
General Characteristics, UH-60A Black Hawk
Builder: Sikorsky Aircraft Company
Power Plant: Two General Electric T700-GE-701 turboshaft engines
Thrust: 1,560 shaft horsepower (shp) each engine
Length: 50 feet (15.26 meters)
Width: 7.75 feet (2.36 meters)
Rotor Span : 53.6 feet (16.36 meters)
Height: 18.5 feet (5.6 meters)
Empty Weight: 11,284 pounds (5,118 kg.)
Mission Weight: 16,994 pounds (7,708 kg.)
Maximum Take-off Weight: 24,500 pounds (11,113 kg.)
Cruising Speed: 139 knots (160 mph.)
Maximum Speed: 160 knots (184 mph.)
Service Ceiling: 18,700 feet (5,700m)
Hover Ceiling (OGE): 5,400 feet (1,645 meters)
Range: 319 nautical miles (368 statute miles) combat, 1,200 nautical mile ( 1,381 statute miles) ferry
Crew: 3 -- Pilot, co-pilot, crew chief
None -- Provisions provided for 2 pintle-mounted, crew-fired weapons. Pintles capable of accepting most 7.62mm and .50 caliber machine guns.
ESSS equipped helicopters can carry up to 16 hellfire ATGMs or a combination of rocket or gun pods.
Inventory: None, replaced by the UH-60L