Sikorsky delivered the 5,000th iconic UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to the US Army.
The delivery occurred during a ceremony at Sikorsky’s headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut, on January 20, 2023, and was attended by US lawmakers and military representatives.
“Sikorsky, as a company, has been forged by the Black Hawk,” said Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo. “The Black Hawk and its variants deliver when reliability and performance are nonnegotiable. Hawk aircraft continue to demonstrate their versatility and readiness with the latest technological advancements and ongoing U.S. and global investment in the aircraft.”
The US Army operates a fleet of more than 2,300 Black Hawk helicopters. It will continue to receive more helicopters until 2027 under a $2.3 billion order placed in June 2022, with options for an additional 135 aircraft. If these options are exercised, Black Hawk production could extend beyond the 2030s.
The story behind a legendary helicopter
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, which was founded 100 years ago by Kyiv-born Igor Sikorsky, answered a tender issued by the US Army in 1972 to replace another legendary helicopter: the Bell UH-1 Huey. After competing against the Boeing Vertol YUH-61, the S-70, which made its maiden flight on October 17, 1974, was selected.
Though mostly known under its US Army designation of UH-60 Blackhawk air assault helicopter, the S-70 was adopted by the five branches of the US military in various roles ranging from search and rescue to VIP transport and even electronic warfare.
And to this day, the interest in the aircraft extends beyond the United States. As recently as January 18, 2023, the Australian Government confirmed the acquisition of 40 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk medium-lift utility military helicopters in a $1.96 billion deal.
However, the reign of Sikorsky and its Black Hawk could eventually come to an end. In December 2022, the US Army awarded Bell Textron with a $1.3 billion development contract for the V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft as part of its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) tender to replace the UH-60.
Lockheed Martin, the parent company of Sikorsky since 2015, demanded a review of the decision by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).