The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is the U.S. Army’s primary medium-lift utility transport and air assault aircraft. It is a twin-engined medium-lift utility helicopter. It is equipped with a single 4-bladed rotor and a single 4-bladed tail rotor. The basic crew complement for the UH-60A is three: pilot, co-pilot and crew chief. The titanium-cored rotor blades are resistant to AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) fire up to 23mm and are equipped with pressurized sensors capable of detecting loss of rotor pressurization (damage).
The A model was designed to carry 11 combat troops in addition to a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot, crew chief) and was intended to serve in utility, air assault, medevac, command and control, and reconnaissance roles. The Army began converting Black Hawks to the medevac role in 1981.
The UH-60A utilizes a dragging tail wheel landing gear system, with two non-movable main gear struts, and a rotating lockable tail wheel assembly. For operations in Arctic environments, the Black Hawk can be fitted with landing skis.
The UH-60A is equipped with troop accommodations for eight, which can be removed to accommodate four full-sized medical litters. The Black Hawk can transport 11 fully equipped combat soldiers in an assault-ready configuration, or 14 in a maximum capacity situation. Maximum troop carrying capacity is 20 lightly equipped personnel. The dedicated medevac variant of the Black Hawk can accommodate 6 litters.
The UH-60A is equipped with a rearward sliding and lockable door on each side of the cargo compartment. The external cargo hook is rated to 8,000 pounds (3,630 kg.)
The ESSS (External Stores Support System) consists of two external wing-like assemblies attached to the airframe above the cargo compartment doors. Each ESSS wing is equipped with 2 removable pylons. The wings are rated to 5,000 pounds each, and can accommodate a single 230-gallon fuel tank, as well as a single 450-gallon fuel tank (this gives the UH-60A an unrefueled self-deployment range of 1,200 nautical miles). Up to 16 Hellfire missiles can be mounted on the ESSS and, when coupled with the capability to carry an additional 16 missiles internally, gives an armed Black Hawk the ability to re-arm itself mid-mission.
The UH-60A is equipped with two General Electric T700-GE-701 turboshaft engines rated at 1,560 shaft horsepower each. Internal fuel is stored in two crashworthy fuel tanks and totals 360 gallons. If ESSS equipped, the Black Hawk can carry two 230-gallon external tanks, and up to two additional auxiliary 185-gallon tanks internally in the cargo compartment. The Black Hawk is capable of flying on one engine.
The UH-60A is equipped with VHF-FM, UHF-FM, and VHF-AM/FM radios, as well as encrypted IFF recognition system. For self defense, the Black Hawk is equipped with an AN/APR-39 (v) 1 radar warning receiver, as well as an AN/ALQ-144 infrared countermeasures system and chaff/flare dispenser.
While not equipped with any dedicated weapon systems, the UH-60A is equipped with two pintle mounts (one each located on either side of the airframe aft of the flight deck.) These pintles are capable of accepting a variety of weapons, to include the M-60 GP 7.62mm machine gun, the M-240 7.62mm machine gun, the .50 caliber GAU-19/A machine gun, as well as the General Electric M134 7.62mm 6-barreled minigun. Utilizing the ESSS system, the UH-60A can equip up to 16 Hellfire missiles, as well as 2.75" FFAR (folding fin aerial rocket) rocket pods, FIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles, as well as aerial mine delivery systems, such as the volcano and the M56 mine delivery system.
The UH-60L Blackhawk represents an upgrade to the original UH-60A Blackhawk, which entered service with the US Army in 1978. Production of the UH-60L began in 1989 with the conversion of existing UH-60A aircraft to the "L" standard as well as the production of new airframes. The first UH-60L was delivered in November 1989. Over 600 have been delivered since 2006, and production is expected to continue until the UH-60L line is replaced by new production UH-60M aircraft.
Externally, the UH-60L is very similar to the UH-60A. Major improvements include the incorporation of a hover IR suppression system (HIRSS) that is designed to cool engine exhaust gasses while hovering and in forward flight. As with the UH-60A, the "L" variant is ESSS capable and rated for all of the same weapon systems. The external cargo hook limit has been improved on the UH-60L, which has a maximum lift rating of 9,000 pounds. Internal troop carrying capacity remains unchanged at 11 fully loaded, 14 high-density, and 20 lightly equipped.
The UH-60L is equipped with two General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines, each rated to 1,880 shaft horsepower. The "L" model retains the same internal fuel arrangements as in the "A" model.