Tag Archives: Black Hawk

Polish Black Hawk

During the MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition, PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin company displayed an S-70i Armed Black Hawk helicopter fitted with a single-station external stores pylon. Designed at PZL Mielec as a lighter weight, lower cost alternative to currently fielded dual-station external wings, a single-station pylon attached to one or both sides of the aircraft will be compatible with the advanced weapon system that allows Black Hawk pilot gunners to support battlefield operations using forward firing guns, rockets and air-to-ground missiles.

An S-70i Black Hawk helicopter at the MSPO trade show carries a lightweight single-station external stores pylon supporting four Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. The prototype pylon’s drop design offers a wide field of fire to the crew-served machine gun, which also can be locked into a fixed forward position for control by a pilot gunner

«We’re developing the single-station pylon in response to requests by militaries across Europe, Latin America and Asia for a battlefield support helicopter that can be armed for different types of missions that may not always need four weapons stations», said Janusz Zakręcki, president, general director of PZL Mielec. «Operators can arm the aircraft for suppressive fire, surveillance, armed reconnaissance, armed escort and air assault missions, and still carry out other utility roles whenever pylons and stores must remain on the aircraft».

At a quarter the cost and weight of a dual-station wing, a pylon can be removed or attached by two people in 15 minutes, produces less drag during flight, offers a wider field of fire to window or door gunners, and opens more space to hoist a litter into the aircraft while in a hover.

For large targets, a pylon will be able to carry HELLFIRE or Spike air-to-ground missile launchers. A pylon also can extend aircraft range with an 80-gallon/303-liters external fuel tank.

As a complementary option for the S-70i/S-70M Armed Black Hawk with dual-station wings, the single station pylon will integrate with the aircraft’s weapons management system that calculates the range and complex ballistics required for pilot gunners to engage targets with high accuracy and reliability from stand-off distances during day and night operations.

PZL Mielec expects to begin airworthiness flight testing of the prototype pylon design in 2020.

Fly-by-wire

A technology kit developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, was used for the first time to operate a Black Hawk helicopter with full-authority, fly-by-wire flight controls. The May 29 flight marked the official start to the flight test program for the soon-to-be optionally piloted aircraft. Follow-on flight testing aims to include envelope expansion throughout the summer leading to fully autonomous flight (zero pilots) in 2020.

A Black Hawk equipped with Optionally-Piloted Vehicle (OPV) technology made its first flight at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Fla., facility on May 29. Sikorsky is developing autonomous and OPV technology that builds on its fly-by-wire technology to ultimately reduce the number one cause of helicopter crashes: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) (Photo courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company)

«This technology brings a whole new dimension of safety, reliability and capability to existing and future helicopters and to those who depend on them to complete their missions», said Chris Van Buiten, Vice President, Sikorsky Innovations. «We’re excited to be transforming a once mechanically controlled aircraft into one with fly-by-wire controls. This flight demonstrates the next step in making optionally piloted – and optimally piloted – aircraft, a reality».

This is the first full authority fly-by-wire retrofit kit developed by Sikorsky that has completely removed mechanical flight controls from the aircraft.

Through DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program, Sikorsky is developing an OPV approach it describes as pilot directed autonomy to give operators the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably and affordably in optimally piloted modes enabling flight with two, one or zero crew. The program aims to improve operator decision aiding for manned operations while also enabling both unmanned and reduced crew operations.

Sikorsky has been demonstrating its MATRIX Technology on a modified S-76B called the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA). The aircraft, which has been in test since 2013, has more than 300 hours of autonomous flight.

Sikorsky announced in March that its S-92 helicopter fleet update will include the introduction of phase one MATRIX Technology that will bring advanced computing power to the platform. This foundation enables adoption of autonomous landing technology.