The Army has successfully completed the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) period for the new UH-60V Black Hawk, as the service aims for a full-rate production decision around the second quarter of fiscal year 2023.

The UH-60V is a retrofit of the Lima-model Black Hawk upgraded with a Northrop Grumman

[NOC]-supplied ‘digital cockpit’ suite and OpenLift architecture to enable more rapid integration of new avionics capabilities and provide capability comparable to the UH-60M.

A UH-60V Black Hawk departs for a record test flight during the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) at Ft. McCoy, WI. Photo: Paul Stevenson, Army PEO Aviation.

“This successful IOT&E allows the Army to make an informed decision on transitioning the UH-60V to full-rate production,” Lt. Col. Howard Swanson, the Army’s UH-60V product manager, said in a statement. “The UH-60V recapitalized the combat proven UH-60L, applying the latest information and technology enhancements making it ‘UH-60M-like’ to support the warfighter.”

The Army said IOT&E began on July 5 at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin with three weeks of preliminary testing where pilots few more than 120 hors with five UH-60V helicopters “under realistic battlefield conditions.” 

From July 28 to Aug. 5, the Army then conducted record testing with UH-60V totaling over 200 flight hours “successfully demonstrating the model’s capabilities.”

Northrop Grumman announced in April that the Army Systems Readiness Directorate granted an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Airworthiness Release for the UH-60V certifying the aircraft to fly in all conditions (Defense Daily, April 18). 

“The pilot-vehicle interface is nearly identical to that of the UH-60M, enabling common training and operational employment,” Northrop Grumman wrote in a statement at the time. “Open, safe and secure, the UH-60V has achieved airworthiness for its multicore processor – a first for an Army Black Hawk helicopter. This allows the flight-critical systems to be separated safely from the mission software and enables the use of third-party applications.”

Northrop Grumman previously said it has also demonstrated its OpenLift architecture on an AH-64E Apache, adding it has potential to be extended for use with other platforms in the Army’s enduring helicopter fleet and its planned Future Vertical Lift platforms.

The Army previously noted the 1st Battalion of the 106th Aviation Regiment will be the first tactical unit to receive UH-60Vs, with fielding set to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2022 (Defense Daily, July 28 2021).

The UH-60V program is expected to include converting 760 total UH-60L model aircraft to new, modernized configuration, the Army has said previously. 

The Army said Monday the Operation Operational Test Command Operational Test Report for UH-60V is expected to be released in 30 days and the Army Test and Evaluation Command Operational Evaluation Report is expected to be released in December.