US helicopter maker Sikorsky has delivered the first European-built S-70M helicopters under an order from Romania covering up to 12 aircraft.
The company on 24 November turned over four multi-role S-70 helicopters, a direct commercial sales (DCS) variant of Sikorsky’s venerable H-60 Black Hawk line. The aircraft were produced by Sikorsky’s Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec and turned over to Romania’s Ministry of Internal Affairs at Aurel Vlaicu International airport in Bucharest.
The new rotorcraft will support civil emergency missions including medical airlift, search and rescue and firefighting. Two more examples are expected to be delivered before the end of 2023, with the full fleet being provided to Romania over the next four years.
Sikorsky president Paul Lemmo on 24 November called the delivery a “historic event”.
“The Black Hawk is the most capable and dependable helicopter for crews who conduct vital lifesaving and firefighting missions,” Lemmo says. “These multi-role helicopters bring flexibility to conduct rescue missions at greater ranges and in the most challenging environments, and with increased survivability.”
The battle-tested Black Hawk has been the backbone of the US military’s helicopter fleet throughout the post-Vietnam War era, including four decades of combat service.
Sikorsky delivered the 5,000th Black Hawk in January 2023. At the time, Lemmo predicted the type would continue to fly “decades into the future”.
With the S-70M delivery, Romania becomes the 11th national government and 18th overall customer for Black Hawk helicopters built by PZL Mielec, according to Sikorsky. The company is Poland’s largest exporter of aerospace equipment.
Exports, including both DCS S-70s from Poland and traditional Foreign Military Sales aircraft from the USA, have become a pillar of Sikorsky’s business strategy, particularly following the loss of the US Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft competition in April.
The Lockheed Martin subsidiary has notched significant Black Hawk orders in 2023, including 40 UH-60s for Australia and 32 S-70s for Poland.
Sikorsky is also in talks with Indonesia and Greece to acquire 24 and 49 aircraft, respectively.