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DSEI 2023: Lockheed to produce about 40% of Black Hawks on UK soil if it wins NMH contest

13th September 2023 - 10:30 GMT | by Norbert Neumann in London


Lockheed Martin estimates that nearly 40% of total New Medium Helicopter Black Hawk production and assembly would occur in the UK. (Photo: Sikorsky)

Lockheed Martin promises a boost to the British job market and export opportunities, while strengthening ties with Poland and positioning the UK for a future in rotorcraft technology in the event of a New Medium Helicopter competition triumph.

Lockheed Martin announced on 12 September at DSEI that it has partnered with StandardAero to assemble the Black Hawk helicopter in the UK if it were to win the New Medium Helicopter (NMH) competition.

Addressing media at the trade fair, Paul Livingston, CEO of Lockheed Martin UK, announced that StandardAero will set up a production line for the S-70M Black Hawk helicopter at its Gosport facility in southern England.

At this location, StandardAero will assemble components manufactured by PZL Mielec in Poland to complete the helicopter.

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Livingston said his company estimates that nearly 40% of total Black Hawk production and assembly would occur in the UK and will support, on average, 660 jobs a year between 2025 and 2030.

The exact status of parts to be assembled in the UK remain unknown, but it would be fair to assume that some of the Black Hawks or subassemblies would arrive nearly or completely finished from Poland.

‘It will support up to 600 highly skilled jobs, with export opportunities over and above New Medium Helicopter, and it will also strengthen industrial collaboration between the UK and Poland – two key strategic partners,’ Livingston said.

‘With 5,000 Black Hawks sold globally, it will sustain a 45-year pipeline for jobs, and will provide a route into Sikorsky's [Future Vertical Lift] technologies.’

He said the plan also creates approximately £470 million of export opportunities for UK partners manufacturing subsystems and components over the next 10 years, equivalent to 40% of the total programme value, based on the expected export market to Black Hawk customers.

Livingston also said that Lockheed’s ‘proposal to assemble the Black Hawk in Gosport will bring more value to the UK than either of the other two [bidders Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo Helicopters].’

The company CEO added that the UK’s participation in the Black Hawk programme would open the door for its industry to take part in development and production of Lockheed Martin’s next-generation rotorcraft solutions, quoting the US-based Future Vertical Lift capability programmes – Sikorsky is still in competition with Bell for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programme.

Lockheed believes that the entirely military-spec Black Hawk would provide the UK with a superior, more robust and ultimately more cost-effective platform compared to rotorcraft based on commercial designs. Livingston emphasised that the Black Hawk's crashworthiness, seat configuration and other attributes render it a more combat-ready aircraft.

The NMH programme aims to replace various UK military helicopter fleets, including the Puma HC2, Bell 212, Bell 412 and AS365 Dauphin.

The announced schedule for introducing the new rotorcraft into service by 2025 is facing growing difficulties. These challenges arise from the lack of clearly defined critical acquisition targets, making it harder to maintain the anticipated timeline.

All three bidders are currently in a holding pattern, awaiting the next phase of the procurement process to commence. The UK MoD has experienced repeated delays in publishing the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), and it is now expected to be released in October.

Shephard's DSEI 2023 coverage is sponsored by:

Norbert Neumann


Norbert Neumann

Norbert is the Aviation, Military Training & Simulation reporter at Shephard Media. Before joining Shephard in …

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