SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT hopes that a UH-60Q medical evacuation helicopter two-year qualification programme will lead to the purchase of more than 300 UH-60Q Dustoff rotorcraft lasting through to the end of the century.

In February, The US helicopter maker won a $14.6 million Phase II contract from the US Army to modify a handful of UH-60A Black Hawk utility helicopters to medical-evacuation (medevac) configuration for operational testing.

Based on successful flight tests, the Pentagon will seek funding in fiscal year 1998 to modify 87 US Army Black Hawks to UH-60Q configuration. Ultimately, the US Army and Army National Guard would like to field 363 UH-60Qs dedicated to aeromedical evacuation.

Operation Desert Storm showed that today's US Army medevac force - nearly 400 Bell Helicopter Textron UH-1Vs and 148 litter-equipped UH-60As - needs to be replaced with UH-60Qs designed to provide comprehensive modern medical care between battlefield and hospital.

Air Methods, a Colorado-based civilian emergency-medical-services specialist, is designing the combat litter systems, while Litton units are providing the on-board oxygen-generation system) and aircraft multi-function display. Simula will provide the medical-attendant seats. The SAFIRE thermal imaging system made by FLIR Systems, a Breeze-Eastern external electric rescue-hoist, Canadian Marconi control display unit and Telephonics intercom system will also be standard on the UH-60Q.

The UH-60Q's configuration evolved from a proof-of-principle machine, which has already been flown. That project was assigned to E-System's Servair and the US Army plans to compete the UH-60Q work. Aside from E-Systems, which is now part of Raytheon, Sikorsky can expect competition from AEL, UNC and Lear Sigler.

Source: Flight International