The Black Hawk was born out of the Sikorsky S-70 project designed to the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) specification that began in the latter part of the 1960's. The specification itself originated on the data collected from wartime use of the UH-1 "Huey" Iroquois helicopters pulling multiple duties across the war zone. Review of this experience brought about a need for capable replacement system for the immediate future. This design specification also coincided with development of the new General Electric turboshaft engine series designated as the T700. US Army feelers went out in 1972 with both Sikorsky and Boeing-Vertol both answering the call. The Sikorsky design was chosen ahead of the Boeing-Vertol YUH-61A attempt and the Sikorsky YUH-60A prototype achieved first flight on November 29th, 1974. The production contract was handed to Sikorsky in late 1976 with first deliveries of the Black Hawk system beginning on an October day two years later. The Black Hawk was officially introduced into service in the middle of 1979 with the US Army 101st Airborne Division, replacing the venerable UH-1 Hueys.
Black Hawks have a distinct look about them making them highly recognizable even when compared to her contemporaries. The forward portion of the fuselage contains seating positions for the pilot and co-pilot (collectively known as the flight crew) with windowed panels above, forward-below and to the sides. Each crew position is afforded an entry-exit door. Directly behind the cockpit is the cabin that allows for seating of some 11 personnel (depending on the version) with entry/exit made by two double-windowed sliding doors. The General Electric series turboshaft engines sit atop either side of the middle-fuselage with the four-blade main rotor extending up between them. The empennage is of conventional design and layout, featuring a four-blade tail rotor positioned to the starboard side, single vertical fin structure and horizontal plane. The undercarriage is fixed and features to main landing gears forward (complete with wire cutters ahead of each component) and a single tail wheel fitted under the fuselage area between the cabin and extreme edge of the tail.
Performance from the twin turboshaft engines provide for a top approximate speed of 183 miles per hour with a "never exceed" speed of up to 222 miles per hour. Cruise speeds are typically 173 miles per hour. A combat radius of 368 miles is possible with a ferry range of 1,380 miles. The service ceiling is reported at 19,000 feet with a 700 feet-per-minute rate-of-climb. Cargo hauling capacity is 2,640lbs of freight held internally. An 8,000lb freight limit is imposed for external hauling.
As expected, the Black Hawk helicopter can accomplish just about any battlefield-related task it is assigned. This includes its standard role as a troop-carrying implement but can also be expanded to include cargo/artillery transport, offensive assault, Special Operations insertion/extraction along with Search & Rescue and MedEvac. Several Black Hawks have been modified for VIP transport roles for the US government and take on the call sign of "Marine One" when specifically transporting the President of the United States.
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