PICTURE: Israel tests armed Black Hawk demonstrator

Tel Aviv
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Israel's air force expects to complete test flights in late December of a prototype armed version of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter prepared in co-operation with the US manufacturer.

The air force says the demonstrator has been equipped with new command and control equipment, electronic warfare systems and air-to-surface missiles, with the latter believed to be Rafael's Spike-ER design.

Pictured without missiles, but carrying an electro-optical/infrared sensor payload and a cannon, the aircraft will be able to locate, identify and destroy targets from a range of up to 8km (4.3nm), the service says.

 
© Sikorsky

Israel has yet to commit itself to funding the conversion to additional aircraft, with the current test flights intended to determine an optimal armed configuration.

But if its air force decides to convert part or all of its UH-60 fleet to the armed configuration, Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries are expected to compete for the work.

The Israeli air force has an active inventory of 49 Black Hawks, and operates a combined total of 90 Bell AH-1 and Boeing AH-64A/D Apache attack helicopters, according to Flight's HeliCAS database.

For more Black Hawk news and images, see Flight's aircraft profile