During the last 40 years, the remarkable Black Hawk multirole helicopter has fought its way in and out of countless combat zones to deliver and extract troops, save lives as a MEDEVAC or casualty evacuation platform, provide critical supplies to troops, deliver emergency supplies during natural disasters, and perform as an aerial firefighter and border patroller.
The Black Hawk serves with the US military and the armed forces of 28 other countries worldwide as a tough, reliable utility helicopter.
More than 4,000 Black Hawks of all types are in service worldwide today. The US Army is the largest operator with 2,135 H-60 designated aircraft. The same aircraft sold internationally direct from Sikorsky acquires the S-70 designation.
One of the few military branches that does not use the iconic Black Hawk is the US Marine Corps. Why?
‘Marines don’t fly Black Hawks for a couple of reasons,’ Jonathan Burba, former infantry rifleman at US Marine Corps, explains on Quora. ‘First, Marine Corps aircraft have to be able to operate off of a ship. The MV-22 Osprey and the CH-53E Super Stallion [and in the future the CH-53K King Stallion] are both huge, but are capable of adjusting to fit on a flight deck. Both aircraft are large, but they actually fold for easy storage.
‘The Ospreys and Super Stallions also have a lot more cargo capacity than a Blackhawk. The Black Hawk can carry 11 loaded troops, the Osprey carries twice that, the Super Stallion can carry 50 or 60 depending on how the interior is arranged. As far as weight goes, the Blackhawk can carry up to 9000 lbs, the Osprey and Super Stallion carry 15,000 lbs and 36,000 lbs respectively. Since we operate from the sea, it’s helpful to be able to sling vehicles such as Hummers, JLTV’s and LAVs onto shore by helicopter, and since we’re operating off of a very small airport, all of the birds have to be able to handle a lot of different jobs. We didn’t use Hueys all that often the units I’ve served with, I’ve flown on 2 I think. I can’t tell you how may CH-53’s I’ve been on, it was usually that or the CH-46, the Ospreys were still being developed when I got out so I didn’t get to fly on those personally.’
‘The closest the Marine Corps has to the Black Hawk are the helicopters used by HMX-1 to fly the president. The Marine One birds are from the Black Hawk family, but all the VH-60 White Hawks are being retired and replaced with a new helicopter based on the Sikorsky S-92 in the near future though.’
Photo credit: U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps
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