Sikorsky and two Australian companies have entered a deal that will see 10 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters converted to perform aerial firefighting and disaster relief missions.

The deal is worth up to A$63 million ($50.4 million), and includes options for 10 additional aicraft, says Lockheed Martin unit Sikorsky.

Its two partners in the agreement are helicopter operator and distributor Kaan Air, and StarFlight Australia, which will operate the refurbished rotorcraft. StarFlight is a joint venture between Kaan and LifeFlight Australia.

Ten former US military Black Hawks will be purchased and sent to Australia in early 2018, where they will be reconditioned and repurposed for aerial firebombing.

Upgrade work will take three months per helicopter and include fitting new GE Aviation T700-701D engines and upgraded gearboxes, plus the installation of a helicopter terrain awareness and warning system, along with a general overhaul.

Sikorsky will refurbish and maintain the helicopters at its Pinkenba facility in Brisbane, Queensland.