Sikorsky has completed qualification to military standards of a comprehensive weapons system for S-70M / S-70i™ Black Hawk helicopters. Fully integrated with the aircraft’s existing avionics, the system allows either pilot to place munitions quickly from forward firing guns, rocket pods and laser-designated air-to-ground missile launchers onto static or moving targets with high accuracy.
“Sikorsky has vastly simplified the complex task of placing rounds onto a target from standoff distances by calculating the complex ballistics required for effective airborne gunnery,” said Bill Gostic, Sikorsky vice president of Global Military Systems & Services. “Once the weapons interfaces and electro-optical infrared sensor are integrated with the Black Hawk helicopter’s existing controls and displays, international militaries can add external wings and weapons of choice in less than three hours to perform a range of medium attack missions.“
In 2017, Sikorsky concluded a six-year development program of the weapons system, including two years of live fire tests at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. Sikorsky’s independent Qualification Assurance Board recently verified and validated the weapons system’s effectiveness and conformance to operational safety, airworthiness and firing accuracy.
Weapons are carried by two external wings supporting four weapons stations, which can support any combination of fixed forward 50-cal (12.7mm) gun, 7- or 19-shot Hydra 70 rocket pods, or Hellfire™ air-to-ground missiles. Additionally, the qualified configuration features pilot-controlled fixed forward or crew served flex fire 7.62-mm mini-guns mounted to both cabin windows.
Once integrated for weapons delivery, the armed Black Hawk aircraft can be configured to perform a variety of medium attack missions:
- Attack, armed escort, fire suppression: Carry full external weapons load, with ammunition pallets and auxiliary fuel tank inside the cabin
- Troop transport and assault: Seat up to 10 troops and two window gunners with external wings (no ammunition pallets inside the cabin)
- Anti-armor: Carry up to 16 laser guided missiles.
To engage with guns and rockets, the weapons system presents continuously updated targeting symbology to each pilot’s helmet mounted display. By following the cues on the display, the pilot can maneuver the aircraft and engage the target. The system also provides target designation for laser-guided HELLFIRE missiles.