FARNBOROUGH—Lockheed Martin flew its new armed UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Poland to the Farnborough International Air Show here this week in the hope of selling the versatile technology to militaries around the world.                                                                       

Lockheed, which recently acquired Sikorsky’s family of multirole helicopters, debuted the armed UH-60 Black Hawk on the European stage last month at Anakonda, Poland’s largest military exercise. But this week marks the first time the company has showcased the armed Black Hawk at a major international air show.

Lockheed has already snagged its first customer for the new platform and expects 24 orders, the company said July 12. Officials would not disclose the customer’s identity.
The multirole Black Hawk is flown in a variety of configurations by 26 militaries, and many have chosen to arm their fleets. But until now, Sikorsky itself has never offered an armed Black Hawk with an integrated weapons system built directly into the cockpit.

“To some degree this has been done before, but it’s been done in a federated system where you have a separate joystick that controls the weapons added to the aircraft,” said Bill Gostic, Sikorksy’s president for global military systems and services. “That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re now offering customers a highly integrated weapon solution that’s built directly into the cockpit flight management system.”

The configuration Lockheed is offering to its first customer includes dual-window crew-served UKM2000, M240 or M134 7.62 mm mini-guns, four Hellfire missiles, a 12.7 mm FN-Herstal HMP and an M261 Hydra 70 19-shot rocket pod. It also includes a Goodrich rescue hoist and either a crashworthy external fuel system or weapons pylon. Lockheed’s INFIRNO Elector-Optical/Infra-Red sensor is mounted on the Black Hawk’s nose.

Lockheed expects to complete flight testing and qualify the aircraft for its first customer by year’s end, Gostic said.

But the Black Hawk on display here is just one possible configuration. Gostic stressed that any new customer could customize its armed Black Hawk to fit its individual needs.
Lockheed expects the program to have widespread appeal based on its versatility and immediate availability. Gostic estimated the upgrade will only take about a month in depot to reconfigure. Once the attachment points and weapons management system are installed on the aircraft, conversion from one mission set to another will take about 8 hr., he said.

Lockheed is offering two options to potential customers interested in an armed Black Hawk: either an all-new helicopter or a weapons kit that can be used to upgrade existing aircraft. The cost of the upgrade package will likely start out “in the low, single-digit millions,” but could go up depending on how each customer chooses to configure the aircraft, Gostic said.

Any changes to the initial configuration would need to be qualified separately at additional cost, he added.
Lockheed is meeting with several potential customers here this week, and is targeting Eastern European militaries which currently operate Russian equipment as well as Middle East and Far East countries, Gostic said.
Lockheed is also hoping that Poland, which currently provides the channel for direct commercial sales of the UH-60 around the world, will buy the new armed Black Hawk.
Separately, Sikorsky is looking into a similar upgrade program to arm the MH-60 Sea Hawks, a maritime version of the Black Hawk built for the U.S. Navy, Gostic said.
Given today’s operating environment, the time is ripe for an armed Black Hawk, Gostic said.
“Today’s world is pretty unstable. Budgets are tight. So what we are seeing is customers coming to us and asking us for more versatility in the Black Hawk, in particular a weapons package,” Gostic said. “They’ve asked for the ability to leverage this foundation that the Black Hawk has to expand the  range of missions.”