LOCKHEED MARTIN displayed an armed version of the Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk at Farnborough last week in an effort to interest potential customers and showcase the variety of weapons that can be integrated into the helicopter. This was the first time the company had displayed the armed Black Hawk at a major international air show.
Lockheed Martin is exploring options to bring its weapons integration expertise to bear on the S-70i helicopters made by Sikorsky, now a Lockheed Martin Company, at its PZL Mielec facility in Poland. The goal is to produce an armed kit scalable to the requirements of customers that procure Black Hawks direct from Lockheed Martin.
Bill Gostic, vice president, Sikorsky Global Military Systems and Services, said: “Last year’s acquisition of Sikorsky by Lockheed Martin has widened the aperture of possibilities for arming the Black Hawk helicopter. Lockheed Martin brings integration expertise that will allow us to customize an armed configuration — for defensive or offensive operations — to the specific preferences of current and future Black Hawk customers, and with weapons of their choice.”
The company revealed at the Show on July 12 that it had already secured an initial, unspecified customer for the new variant and expects an order for 24 helicopters. Lockheed Martin anticipates completing flight testing of the armed variant and qualification for the launch customer by the end of this year.
The display at Farnborough represented the types of weapons Lockheed Martin can integrate onto this medium-lift military utility platform. Armed external wings on either side of the displayed aircraft featured a total of four weapons stations for fire suppression and elimination of armoured targets, with launchers for a mix of Hellfire and DAGR air-to-ground missiles, a 19-shot Hydra-70 rocket pod and an FN Herstal Belgium-manufactured rocket machine gun pod. For laser designating of a future weapons system, the aircraft’s cockpit chin featured the Infirno sensor system.
Crew-served weapons inside the displayed aircraft include an FN Herstal 50-calibre (12.7mm) machine gun mounted on the cabin floor, plus window-mounted 7.62-mm mini-guns. The mini-guns can also swing into a fixed forward firing position to be operated by the pilot.
Depending on the chosen weapons configuration, the cabin can seat troops for armed assault and close air support of ground troop missions. Alternatively, the cabin can store additional ammunition for the guns and rocket pods, and an internal 200 gal (757lit) auxiliary fuel tank system for extended range and endurance required for armed escort missions.