Farnborough Air Show

Sikorsky Aims for UK Black Hawk Success

 - July 18, 2022, 12:41 PM
A Sikorsky Black Hawk at Farnborough International Airshow 2022 (Photo: David McIntosh).

Lockheed Martin is pitching its Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk at the UK’s New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement for up to 44 helicopters to replace the Puma, Griffin, and Dauphin fleets. The company states that it is “well-positioned” to meet the requirement and highlights its long history of delivering helicopters to the UK military through licensed production of Sikorsky types by Westland.

A formal request for proposals for NMH has yet to be issued, but the prospective bidders have answered a pre-qualification questionnaire concerning the suitability of the bids to answer the needs of NMH. One previously stated UK aim is the desire to have the helicopter in service in 2025, which has driven the need to seek an off-the-shelf design.

Sikorsky’s S-70/H-60 Black Hawk is one of the most successful military helicopters ever, with nearly 5,000 in service in more than 30 countries and 15 million hours flown. The 5,000th S-70 is due to be delivered later this year, and demand for H-60 variants remains high. The latest generation Black Hawk—as represented by the S-70i—is in production at the former PZL plant at Mielec in Poland, which is wholly owned by Lockheed Martin. If the Black Hawk is selected for NMH, the aircraft would be built there.

While that would allow Lockheed Martin to deliver the aircraft in time to meet the stated in-service date, other bidders are offering greater UK content, including manufacturing in the case of the Airbus H175M and Leonardo AW149. Sikorsky has adopted an open and flexible approach to exploring productionization opportunities in the UK, such as taking green airframes and completing them in the UK, undertaking UK-specific adaptations and modernizations in-country, and involving UK companies in a range of support activities. The S-70i’s T700 engines could be supported by GE Aviation’s H+S Aviation in Portsmouth, for example. Another S-70i advantage highlighted by Sikorsky is the interoperability with Black Hawks of other nations, notably those of the U.S. Army.