Sunday, February 26, 2017

A look at the newest model of the Black Hawk, built in North Alabama

In a hangar in Meridianville, the U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center's Prototype Integration Facility is working on the prototypes of the UH-60V or 'Victor Model", the latest model of the famous Black Hawk helicopter.

The Black Hawk is the Army's main helicopter. It can transport an entire 11-man infantry squad, medevac casualties, provide command and control, and various other missions. 

 "What we've done with the Victor Model is take the original "L" models that are analog and upgraded them to a digital configuration," said Danny Featherston, the Prototype Integration Facility Program Manager for the AMRDEC. 

The Army has more than seven hundred UH-60L helicopters in service, of which the design dates to the 1990s. The cockpits use an analog, or non-digital configuration. In the mid to late 2000s, the Army began receiving the UH-60M or "Mike Model" version, which included a digital cockpit, and other improvements. 

The UH-60V basically re-manufactures UH-60Ls to a UH-60M standard, but with some improvements. "We don't want our warfighters to have old technology when they go into a conflict" said Wes Perry, the technical lead.

That also allows pilots to be trained to one, common standard, rather than for both the UH-60L and UH-60M. The cockpit is designed to be based on open architecture and includes digital multifunctional displays which can enhance situational awareness. Another benefit of the Mike and Victor Model versions is that they can be networked, providing additional capabilities.

But why are the first models being built in Meridianville, instead of on Redstone Arsenal? That's because of one of the contractors on the program, Redstone Defense Systems, has a hangar in Meridianville, and because of limited space on Redstone Arsenal. 

The UH-60V program is being managed by the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Aviation, also based on Redstone Arsenal. According to an article published by them, 3 Engineering Development Models (EDMs) will be produced in Meridianville, before being sent to Corpus Christi Army Depot. There, two additional EDMs will be created, with testing set for 2019. 

AMRDEC, their parent command RDECOM, Northrop Grumman and Redstone Defense Systems all are part of the team working on the program. The first prototype flew in January, and will be turned over to Redstone Test Center next month. 

But even though the mass-production of the UH-60V will be done in Texas, the team in Alabama know that the work they've and will continue to do is critical to Army Aviation. 

"We know we're helping with Army readiness, advancing technology and getting this capability into the hands of the warfighter," Featherston said. 

Story and photo gallery:

No comments:

Post a Comment