The US Army’s UH-60V upgrade package, which enhances the “L” variant of the Sikorsky Black Hawk, has completed initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E).
Part of the upgrade package, the digital cockpit system, reached IOT&E in September 2019, says its manufacturer Northrop Grumman on 22 April.
The US Army had not previously announced the UH-60V reaching the milestone. The service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The service aims to bring the capabilities of the older UH-60L into closer alignment with its most modern example of the helicopter, the UH-60M. Upgrades include a digital glass cockpit with open architecture to replace the older analog gauges in UH-60L helicopters.
“Cockpit similarity with the UH-60M enables a single Army Black Hawk pilot training programme,” says the Pentagon’s Director Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) office in its 2019 annual report. “Once qualified on the UH-60M, pilots can transition to the UH-60V with minimal additional instruction.”
The new glass cockpit will also support navigating via Global Air Traffic Management requirements, a form of satellite-based flight guidance and air traffic control.
“By meeting [Global Air Traffic Management] standards, the UH-60V can file instrument flight plans and deploy anywhere [Global Air Traffic Management] standards are enforced,” says DOT&E, noting that the system is used in Europe.
The UH-60V upgrade also includes 10-year service life extension for the airframe
The US Army plans to upgrade more than 700 examples of the UH-60L with the “V” package. Northrop Grumman says low-rate initial production upgrades are currently ongoing.