Helicopters in Kentucky crash are versatile Army workhorses
Two U.S. Army Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters crashed during training Wednesday night in Kentucky, killing nine soldiers. Here are questions and answers about Black Hawks:
WHAT IS THE BLACK HAWK?
The Black Hawk is a twin-engine, four-bladed, medium-lift, utility helicopter developed for the U.S. Army since the 1970s by Sikorsky Aircraft of Stratford, Connecticut. It typically has a crew of two pilots and two crew chiefs. Its basic Army designation is H-60; export versions are designated S-70.
WHAT IS IT USED FOR?
The Black Hawk is built in multiple configurations for a wide range of missions including cargo lift, combat assault, special operations, search-and-rescue, medical evacuation, aerial firefighting and VIP transport, according to Lockheed Martin, parent of Sikorsky. In addition to the crew, it can seat 12 fully equipped troops. Seats can be replaced with stretchers to carry wounded. Armed versions can carry guns, rockets and guided missiles.
WHO USES THE BLACK HAWK?
The Black Hawk is a workhorse for the U.S. Army, which operates more than 2,100 of the aircraft, as well as other U.S. forces and the militaries of dozens of other nations, according to Lockheed Martin. U.S. variants include the Navy’s Seahawk, the Air Force’s Pave Hawk and the Coast Guard’s Jayhawk. A non-military version used for fighting wildfires is called the Firehawk.
HOW MUCH DO BLACK HAWKS COST?
In 2022, the U.S. government and Sikorsky signed a five-year contract for 120 Black Hawks, with options for a total of 255 aircraft for the U.S. Army and foreign militaries. The contract was valued at $2.3 billion for the expected deliveries and up to $4.4 billion if all options are exercised, Lockheed Martin said in a news release. The signing marked the 10th multiyear contract between the U.S. and Sikorsky for H-60 helicopters.