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CAL FIRE orders Sikorsky S-70 Firehawk aircraft

24th May 2018 - 11:25 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Sikorsky and United Rotorcraft have received a purchase order from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) for the acquisition of a new Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk aircraft to be modified into Firehawk fire-fighting configuration, Lockheed Martin announced on 23 May.

The modification work will be carried out by United Rotorcraft.

The order follows an approval for the purchase of up to 12 of the aircraft to replace the state’s aging UH-1H fleet over the next five years. The aircraft will serve CAL FIRE as a firefighting tool to protect property and the citizens of California. 

The Sikorsky S-70 is based on the Black Hawk military helicopter and is equipped to sustain the demanding situations of the aerial firefighting and utility missions. The Firehawk features next generation technology including wide chord rotor blades for increased payload and manoeuvrability, a rugged airframe, digital glass cockpit with flight management system for improved situation awareness.

The aircraft also features precision hover capability using an enhanced global positioning system and an inertial navigation system. The aircraft's operational health is being monitored by an integrated vehicle health management system for preventive maintenance to detect anomalies for early maintenance.

Once assembled, the aircraft will be modified by United Rotorcraft with a 4,550l water tank equipped with a unique snorkel system for 60 second tank refill, extended landing gear, single pilot cockpit layout and a medically equipped interior to support first responders as a multi-mission fire-fighting tool.

Mike Slattery, president of United Rotorcraft, said: United Rotorcraft and Sikorsky are honoured to support CAL FIRE’s stewardship of over 31 million acres throughout California. As seasons have become longer and more severe, it’s crucial that California has these high-performance Firehawk helicopters, which allow initial attack capabilities that can knock down fires early before they spread widely.’

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