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US Approves Sale of 12 Black Hawk Helicopters to Sweden.

On May 29, 2024, the US State Department approved a potential Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Sweden involving twelve UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and associated logistics and program support, with an estimated cost of up to $950 million. This addition brings the total number of American UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters sold through Foreign Military Sales to 88 aircraft, with a cumulative value of $6.145 billion.

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Lockheed Martin Black Hawk Multirole Helicopter (Picture source: Lockheed Martin)

The deal includes the acquisition of twelve UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, thirty T700-GE-701D engines (with twenty-four installed and six as spares), seventeen (17) AN/AAR-57 common missile warning systems (CMWS)

The package also includes an extensive array of advanced avionic and support systems. Among these are AN/APR-39C(V)1/4 radar warning receivers and AN/AVR-2B laser detecting sets, designed to enhance the aircraft's situational awareness and threat detection capabilities. Additionally, the package contains AN/ARN-149(V) low-frequency automatic direction finder radio receivers and AN/ARN-153 tactical air navigation systems (TACAN) receiver transmitters, which are crucial for accurate navigation and positioning. The aircraft will also be equipped with AN/APN-209 radar altimeters for precise altitude measurement and EBC-406HM emergency locator transmitters (ELT), enhancing safety during operations.

The hardware enhancements are complemented by Enhanced Ballistic Armor Protection Systems (EBAPS) and Internal Auxiliary Fuel Tank Systems (IAFTS), which extend the aircraft's range and survivability. For special operations, Fast Rope Insertion Extraction Systems (FRIES) and external rescue hoists, along with rescue hoist equipment sets, are included. The package also features Martin Baker palletized crew chief and gunner seats with crashworthy floor structural modifications, essential for crew safety. Additionally, a comprehensive suite of support items such as helmets, transportation, organizational equipment, spare and repair parts, tools, and test equipment are provided. The deal, valued at $900 million, encompasses technical data and publications, personnel training, and training equipment, along with extensive U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, ensuring a well-rounded support structure for the operational effectiveness and maintenance of the systems.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a NATO Ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.

The proposed sale will improve Sweden’s capability to deter current and future threats and support coalition operations and the United States and Sweden’s goal of greater military interoperability. Sweden will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.

Over the years, several countries have engaged in Foreign Military Sales for UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. In June 2012, Qatar purchased twelve UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for $1.112 billion, including various systems and support equipment. Subsequently, in December 2013, Austria was notified of a possible sale of three UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for $137 million, which included equipment, parts, training, and logistical support.

Tunisia acquired twelve UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters in July 2014, with the deal valued at $700 million. In March 2015, Mexico was approved for the sale of three UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters at an estimated cost of $110 million, aimed at modernizing its armed forces and enhancing capabilities in combating drug trafficking organizations.

Latvia received approval in August 2018 to buy four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, valued at $200 million. Croatia was approved in October 2019 to purchase eight UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for $500 million, including various associated equipment and support elements. Lithuania's request in July 2020 for six UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters amounted to a $300 million deal, aimed at strengthening its defense capabilities as a NATO ally.

In December 2020, Greece received approval for the sale of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, although specific numbers and costs were not detailed. In July 2020, Jordan was approved for the purchase of one UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter for $23 million to supplement its Royal Squadron fleet. Most recently, in August 2022, Australia was approved for UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters at an estimated cost of $1.95 billion.

The UH-60M is widely used by the U.S. Army and internationally, with various countries adopting this model in its different configurations, such as the MH-60 for special operations, the HH-60 for combat search and rescue, and the UH-60V upgrade package for older models. This adaptability ensures the UH-60M can perform in various mission scenarios, including direct combat, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief efforts.

Representing the latest version of the Black Hawk helicopter series, which has been used in military aviation since 1979, the UH-60M model started development in the early 2000s, with its first flight in September 2003. Initial low-rate production began in 2005, and after successful evaluations, full-rate production was approved in December 2007. The UH-60M incorporates modernized systems and enhancements and is designed as a multi-mission helicopter with capabilities for various military operations. It features a digital cockpit with four multifunction displays, a fully coupled four-axis autopilot, and advanced avionics to improve situational awareness and operational efficiency. The helicopter is powered by upgraded T700-GE-701D engines, which provide increased power and lift capability, suitable for missions including troop transport, logistical support, medical evacuation, and special operations.

Key features of the UH-60M include improved rotor blades, offering enhanced lift and performance compared to earlier models. The helicopter is equipped with advanced flight control systems, including a fly-by-wire system, to improve maneuverability and stability in challenging conditions. Additionally, the UH-60M has a crashworthy and ballistically tolerant fuel system and airframe, designed to increase survivability for the crew and passengers in hostile environments. This model builds on the Black Hawk legacy by integrating lessons from decades of operational use and combat experience.

The UH-60M Black Hawk is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, each providing a maximum power output of 2,000 shaft horsepower. The helicopter features wide-chord composite spar main rotor blades for increased lift capability. Its maximum gross weight is 9,979 kg, and it can carry an external load of up to 4,100 kg. The UH-60M has a top speed of 294 km/h and a range of approximately 320 nautical miles (590 km) without refueling. Its advanced avionics suite includes a fully digitized cockpit with four multifunction displays, a dual digital automatic flight control system, and an integrated vehicle health management system (IVHMS).

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