The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is among the most (in)famous and easily-recognizable choppers in the US military. And, beginning today, these venerable aircraft will receive a 21st century kick in the cockpit.
The Black Hawk medium lift utility chopper has been dutifully serving the US Army and Special Forces since its introduction in 1979. It's repeatedly proven its durability and performance, spawning no less than 30 utility and special operations variants. The UH-60 has more spinoffs than CSI.
But because they've been in service for so long, two problems emerge. First, the avionics originally installed are now woefully obsolete. Second, only a portion of the Black Hawks in service today have been upgraded to the new flight system, which fragments the fleet worse than Android and demands pilots learn to fly in both the old analog cockpit and the newer system found in variants like the UH-60M.
However, Northrup Grumman announced earlier today that the US Army has just awarded them the contract to replace the existing analog control panels with "digital electronic instrument displays," the NG press release reads. "The new designation for this upgraded aircraft will be UH-60V. The system virtually replicates the newer UH‑60M pilot-vehicle interface, providing a common training environment."
The defense contractor also revealed a demonstration model today, showing what the new system is capable of. Per the NG press release:
The system features a centralized processor with a partitioned, modular operational flight program with an integrated architecture that enables new capabilities through software-only solutions rather than hardware additions. The architecture maximizes the UH-60L platform performance and reliability while minimizing total life cycle cost. The system is also smaller in size, lower in weight and requires less power than legacy processing systems.
Northrup expects to perform the upgrades on between 700 and 900 UH-60's over the next few years, though there is no timetable yet for their completion. [NG]