Sikorsky S-70

The Sikorsky S-70, a highly versatile twin-engine medium-lift helicopter, was developed by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation as part of the Black Hawk helicopter family. It offers four distinct variants: UH-60 Black Hawk, SH-60 Seahawk, HH-60 Pave Hawk, and MH-60 Jayhawk. Widely employed in both military and civilian applications worldwide, it excels in tasks like troop transportation, medical evacuation, and special operations. Thanks to its robust engineering and ability to carry up to 20 troops or various cargo configurations, it is a preferred choice. Featuring a unique four-blade rotor system, it delivers exceptional agility and stability, making it suitable for a wide range of missions.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography

The Sikorsky S-70, recognized as an outstanding performer in various missions, stands as an iconic helicopter of the 21st century. Its noteworthy achievements include securing the contract from the US Army for the Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition back in 1972. The Army officially designated the prototype as the YUH-60A and, following a competitive fly-off with the Boeing Vertol YUH-61 selected the Black Hawk as the program’s victorious choice in 1976.

Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky S-70
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky S-70

About the Black Hawk (Night Hawk) Helicopter

The Prototype YUH-60A first flew on 17 October 1974. Numerous variants have included the UH-60A and UH-60L Black Hawk. MH-60K special ops helicopter, EH-60A ECM helicopter, CSAR MH-60G Pave hawk, VIP VH-60A and medevac UH-60Q. The S-70B ( SH-60B ) Sea Hawk naval version was designed to the LAMPS III ( Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System  ) specification and has also been widely exported. Versions include the USCG’s HH-60J Jay Hawk.

A variety of tasks, including tactical troop transport, electronic warfare, and aeromedical evacuation, can be accomplished by the Black Hawk helicopter series. When transporting the President of the United States ( Marine One ), the VIP variant of the helicopter, known as the VH-60N, is used to transport significant government figures (such as members of Congress and executive departments).

Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin / Marine One

The Black Hawk helicopter serves as the primary aircraft for air assault, general support, and aeromedical evacuation units. In its latest generation, modified Black Hawks also excel in command and control, electronic warfare, and special operations roles. This helicopter has significantly improved the overall mobility of the army, marked by substantial enhancements in troop capacity and cargo lift capability when compared to the UH-1 Huey it has replaced. A full 12-person infantry squad, equipped and ready, can now be swiftly transported in a single Black Hawk, offering faster transportation compared to its predecessor systems and the ability to operate in a wider range of weather conditions.

The Black Hawk helicopter possesses the capability to relocate a 105 mm howitzer along with its crew of six and carry up to 30 rounds of ammunition in a single lift. The helicopter’s vital components and systems are either armoured or redundant, and its airframe is engineered to absorb impact gradually to ensure the safety of both the crew and passengers. In comparison to the Russian Mi-24 Hind, the Black Hawk stands as a formidable aircraft, belonging to the same size and power class as the later Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.

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Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

About the Pave Hawk Helicopter

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is significantly upgraded to become the Pave ( Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment ) Hawk. It comes with an updated array of communications and navigation tools, including satellite communications, secure voice, Quick communications, integrated inertial navigation, global location, and Doppler navigation systems.

A medium-lift utility military helicopter with twin engines and four blades is the Sikorsky MH-60G/HH-60G Pave Hawk. It uses the PAVE electronic systems programme created by the US Air Force and borrows its design from the UH-60 Black Hawk. The Sikorsky S-70 series includes this helicopter, which is closely connected to the HH-60/MH-60 aircraft.

Whereas the fundamental mission of the HH-60G Pave Hawk is human recovery under hostile situations, including combat search and rescue, the primary mission of the MH-60G Pave Hawk is the insertion and recovery of special operations forces. Both variants operate in adverse areas during the day or at night. Because of its adaptability, the HH-60G may also execute peacetime tasks such as civil search and rescue, emergency aeromedical evacuation (MEDEVAC), disaster relief, international aid and counter-drug efforts.

The Pave Hawk mission kit is equipped with various features, including a retractable in-flight refuelling probe, internal auxiliary fuel tanks, two crew-served (or pilot-controlled) 7.62 mm miniguns or .50-caliber machine guns, and an 8,000-pound (3,600 kg) capacity cargo hook. Additionally, all HH-60Gs are outfitted with foldable rotor blades to enhance their air transportability and support maritime operations.

The combat upgrades for the Pave Hawk include a number of essential parts, including a radar warning receiver, an infrared jammer, and a system for distributing flares and chaff countermeasures. A hoist with a lift capacity of 600 pounds (270 kg) from a hover height of 200 feet (60 m) and a personnel finding system are included in the kit for HH-60G rescue operations. In addition, certain Pave Hawks include an over-the-horizon tactical data receiver that can provide mission updates in almost real-time.

About the Jayhawk Helicopter

The MH-60T Jayhawk stands as a versatile, twin-engine, medium-range search and rescue (SAR) helicopter primarily utilized by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). This aircraft, developed by Sikorsky Aircraft, draws its lineage from the highly successful UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Serving as a crucial asset for the USCG, the MH-60T Jayhawk is instrumental in executing a diverse array of missions, encompassing maritime SAR operations, medical evacuations, law enforcement duties, and humanitarian assistance efforts. Its selection as the replacement for the HH-3F Pelican underscores its significance. The MH-60T is a proud member of the Sikorsky S-70 family of helicopters and shares its origins with the United States Navy’s SH-60 Seahawk helicopter.

The journey of development for the HH-60 Jayhawk commenced in September 1986, achieving its maiden flight milestone on 8 August 1989. The inaugural HH-60J joined the ranks of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in June 1990. Production concluded in 1996, having yielded a total of 42 helicopters, and beginning in 2010, three retired SH-60F Seahawks underwent remanufacturing to MH-60T specifications.
Currently, the Coast Guard operates a fleet of 42 MH-60Ts. The HH-60 Jayhawk is outfitted with cutting-edge avionics, radar systems, and specialized rescue equipment, enabling it to operate with exceptional effectiveness in the most demanding maritime environments. Furthermore, its capacious cabin is designed to accommodate patients on stretchers, facilitating dedicated medical evacuation missions.

Known for its reliability and endurance, the HH-60 Jayhawk plays a vital role in saving lives and protecting coastal regions. Its distinctive orange and white livery makes it easily recognizable as a symbol of hope and assistance during times of distress at sea. Overall, the HH-60 Jayhawk stands as an essential asset in the USCG’s mission to safeguard lives and enforce maritime laws.

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About the Seahawk Helicopter

The United States Navy’s multi-mission Sikorsky SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk, a twin turboshaft engine helicopter based on the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk, is also a part of the Sikorsky S-70 family. The main rotor’s ability to fold and the tail’s foldable design to take up less space inside ships are the most notable upgrades.

The H-60 airframe is used by the US Navy as the SH-60B, SH-60F, HH-60H, MH-60R, and MH-60S model variants. The Seahawk is able to deploy aboard any air-capable frigate, destroyer, cruiser, fast combat support ship, expeditionary transfer dock, amphibious assault ship, littoral combat ship, or aircraft carrier. It is also capable of carrying out naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR), vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).

Photo Credit: Indian Navy
Photo Credit: Indian Navy

Seahawk for the Indian Navy (MH-60R ‘Romeo’)

In August 2018, India’s Ministry of Defence granted approval for the acquisition of 24 MH-60R helicopters. Subsequently, in April 2019, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency authorized the sale of 24 MH-60R anti-submarine helicopters to India at a cost of US$2.6 billion and formally notified Congress of this proposed transaction. India proceeded to sign a contract valued at $2.13 billion (Rs 15,157 Crores) for the MH-60Rs in February 2020. It’s noteworthy that the MH-60R helicopter was initially deployed by the US Navy in 2006.

These helicopters are of vital importance in safeguarding the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) by effectively identifying and neutralizing hostile submarines. On July 16, 2021, at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, the U.S. Navy ceremonially transferred the first two MH-60R aircraft to the Indian Navy. To date, out of the 24 MH-60R Seahawks procured in 2020, only 5 have been successfully delivered, and the anticipated completion of the remaining deliveries is set for 2025.

Dual controls, four fully integrated 8″ x 10″ display monitors, night vision goggles that are compatible, and colour multi-function displays that can be read in sunlight are all features of its avionics, which are all a part of the glass cockpit made by Lockheed Martin’s Owego Helo Systems business.

ATK’s AAR-47 Missile Approach Warning System, Raytheon’s AAS-44 electro-optical system with FLIR and laser rangefinder, BAE Systems’ ALE-39 decoy dispenser and ALQ-144 infrared jammer, and Lockheed Martin’s ALQ-210 electronic support measures system are just a few examples of the onboard sensors.

Enhancements in offensive capabilities have been achieved through the integration of new Mk-54 air-launched torpedoes and Hellfire missiles. As part of this transition, all Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) squadrons that receive the Romeo helicopters are re-designated as Helicopter, Strike Maritime (HSM) squadrons.

The MH-60R is renowned as the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter, and its notable features include:

  •     Spotting underwater enemies
    •  Detecting and engaging enemy threats
    •  Sharing information with other assets to defeat the threat
    •  Switching missions with ease
    •  Living on ships and operating from shore
    •  Multitasking
    •  Lifting heavy cargo
    •  Surviving the most extreme weather

Sikorsky S-70: Unveiling the Specifications

  • Total Crew:  2 pilots & 2 crew chiefs
  • Capacity:  Max 12 troops / for MH-60R _ 5 passengers in the cabin, slung load of 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) or internal load of 4,100 lb (1,900 kg) / 6,684 lb (3,032 kg) payload
  • Length:  64 ft 10 in ( 19.76 m )
  • Width: 7 ft 9 in ( 2.36 m )
  • Height:  16 ft 10 in ( 5.13 m )
  • Weights:  Empty:_  UH_ 5,675kg ( 12,511 lb ) /   HH_  7,257 kg ( 16,000 lb ) /  SH_ 8,055 kg ( 17,758 lb )
  • Max Takeoff Weights:UH_  9,979 kg ( 2,000 lb ) /   HH_ 9,979 kg ( 22,000 lb ) /   SH_ 10,433 kg ( 23,000 lb )
  • Power plant:  2 × General Electric T700-GE-700 Turboshafts
  • Maximum Speed:  UH_ 294 km/h  /  HH_ 357 km/h  /  SH_ 270 km/h
  • Combat range:  UH_ 590 km  /  HH_ 600 km  /  SH_ 810 km
  • Service ceiling:  UH_ 19,000 ft /  HH_  14,000 ft  /  SH_  12,000 ft
  • Rate of climb:  UH & HH _  1,650 ft/min ( 8.4 m/s )  /  SH_ 1,646 ft/min (8.36 m/s)
  • ArmamentUH & HH _ Window_ Machine Guns, 4 Hardpoints ( 2 on each side ) that can carry combinations of Hellfire, AIM-92 Stinger missiles, Rockets etc.
  • SH_ can also carry ( being Naval ) Up to two Mark 54 torpedoes, which are designed for Sonar operations.
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In conclusion, the Sikorsky S-70 is a remarkable helicopter that has earned its reputation as a versatile workhorse in the world of aviation. Its robust design, agility, and adaptability have made it an invaluable asset in both military and civilian sectors. Whether transporting troops into challenging environments, conducting life-saving search and rescue missions, or battling wildfires from the sky, the S-70 consistently demonstrates its excellence.

With its long-standing history of service and continuous innovations, the S-70 remains a symbol of reliability, resilience, and adaptability. As aviation technology evolves, this iconic helicopter continues to play a vital role, in ensuring the safety and security of people worldwide. In the ever-changing landscape of aviation, the Sikorsky S-70 continues to soar, meeting the diverse operational needs of today and tomorrow.

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