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Dubai Helishow: UAE increases Black Hawk fleet

02nd November 2010 - 10:20 by Tony Skinner in Dubai

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) are procuring a total of 60 Black Hawk utility helicopters from the US, it has been confirmed.

In addition to a direct order from Sikorsky for 20 UH-60L Black Hawks worth some $300 million, which have now all been delivered, the UAE is proceeding with two FMS orders from the US government for a total of 40 additional UH-60M aircraft.

At the Dubai Helishow, the UAE armed forces displayed one of the previously delivered aircraft, which has now been weaponised and fitted with the FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE stabilised, multi-sensor system.

Speaking to during the show, Joseph Gigantelli, Sikorsky VP for Europe, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said the additional 40 UH-60M aircraft would start to be dispatched from February 2011 with deliveries running through 2013.

Gigantelli said the earlier procurement of the UH-60L aircraft had been through the company directly as this was a quicker way of getting the aircraft at the time than going through the FMS process.

He added that the UH-60M aircraft were ‘enormously similar' to that delivered to the US Army, the utility aircraft featuring Rockwell Collins digital glass rather than analogue cockpits.

‘This is a Black Hawk region - from a military perspective the Black Hawk is the aircraft. We have already sold into Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and we are looking at Kuwait and Qatar as well,' Gigantelli said.

On 20 October the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced the sale of 72 UH-60M Black Hawks to Saudi Arabia as part of a $25.6 billion FMS order, which also included 36 AH-64D Block II Apaches.

Less clear, however, is how the UAE is proceeding with a requirement to convert some or all of its Black Hawks to a UAE armed variant.

A 2008 DCSA notification said the Gulf country was looking to weaponise its UH-60M aircraft with Hellfire missiles, a range of rockets, including high-explosive and flechette, and Gatling and mini-guns. While this FMS is understood to be no longer proceeding, neither Sikorsky nor the UAE armed forces representatives at the show would comment on the status of the requirement.


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