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.

US Army testing UH-60V digital cockpit at Fort Lewis in Washington state

Source: US Army

US Army pilots testing UH-60V digital cockpit at Fort Lewis in Washington state

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.

US Army testing UH-60V Fort Lewis in Washington state c US Army

Source: US Army

US Army testing UH-60V at Fort Lewis in Washington state c US Army

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.