After signing the expected final UH-60 Black Hawk multi-year deal with the Army last year, Sikorsky’s [LMT] president said Monday he’s still “optimistic” about the potential for future production opportunities with the platform.

Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo’s bullish outlook on Black Hawk arrives after the company lost the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) modernization program and as the service is exploring buying up to 120 more UH-60Ms between 2028 and 2033.

A Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter (Photo: Lockheed Martin)
A Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

“The Army has stated pretty publicly that the FLRAA aircraft is not a one-for-one replacement for the Black Hawk and that they intend to fly the Black Hawk at least through 2060. So, again, while we don’t know what additional production or modernization that will lead to just yet, I’m optimistic that there will be additional production and modernization of the platform. And we’re preparing on all fronts for that,” Lemmo told reporters during a briefing on Monday. 

Last June, the Army signed the expected final multi-year UH-60 Black Hawk contract with Sikorsky, awarding the company a five-year deal worth $2.3 billion for delivery of 120 H-60M helicopters (Defense Daily, June 27).

With options, the Army said the 10th multi-year deal for Black Hawks could potentially be worth $4.4 billion and cover up to 255 helicopters.

Army officials have previously stated the latest Black Hawk multi-year deal would likely be the last as the service shift its priority to buying the Future Vertical Lift fleet, to include the new FLRAA aircraft. 

Bell’s [TXT] V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft design was named the winner of the FLRAA competition on Dec. 5, beating out a Sikorsky and Boeing [BA] team’s Defiant X coaxial rigid rotor helicopter offering (Defense Daily, Dec. 5). 

Lemmo noted the multi-year deal takes Black Hawk production through 2026, with the first helicopters delivered in late 2022 and set to continue through early 2027.

Sikorsky also received a contract modification for just under $100 million last November, Lemmo noted, which covered seven additional Black Hawks to be delivered this year that were added as a congressional plus-up.

“The Black Hawk continues to be the workhorse and backbone of Army aviation. We continue to modernize Black Hawk to meet the evolving missions and the challenging missions. And thanks to a hot production line, we’ve got a strong, well-established supply chain and our digital factory,” Lemmo said.

The sources sought notice the Army released in January details potential interest in exploring five additional years of Black Hawk production, covering 2028 to 2033.

“While I don’t know where that will lead, we certainly responded to that with interest in continuing Black Hawk production, whether it be for the U.S. government or foreign military sales,” Lemmo said. 

Lemmo also noted the continued Foreign Military Sale component for Black Hawk production, to include a nearly $2 billion deal with Australia for 40 UH-60M helicopters (Defense Daily, Jan. 26). 

Doug Bush, the Army’s top acquisition official, told lawmakers last week continued FMS cases for Black Hawk “would be an ideal way to balance the two factors, reduce how much the Army has to invest but maintain the goodness of the industrial base and the workforce.”

“But we can’t count on that exclusively, so we’re open to members’ ideas on how to proceed there. That’s certainly something we’re looking at with our fiscal year ‘25 [budget] discussions,” Bush said during a House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee hearing. 

During a House Armed Services Committee last Wednesday, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said the service expects to “continue to have thousands of Black Hawks in our fleet” in the decades to come and Army Chief Gen. James McConville added that the UH-60 will “continue to be the mainstay of medium-lift helicopters.”

“For the next 40, 60 years, I see us continuing to incrementally improve that system. And I see many of our allies and partners taking a hard look as that’s the type of aircraft they have. So it’s going to be around for a long time,” McConville said during the HASC hearing. “We’re going to keep it. We’re going to incrementally improve it as we bring on the new systems. [FLRAA] is going to give us much greater range and much greater speed. In areas we need them, we’ll use those systems. But the Black Hawk’s going to be around for a long time.”