The US Army/South Dakota Army National Guard has taken delivery of two new Sikorsky HH-60L Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters. They flew in to the Army Aviation Support Facility in Rapid City, South Dakota, on October 29 and are the first of six that will replace a similar number of older model UH-60A/L Black Hawks with Company C, 1st Battalion, 189th Aviation Regiment. Re-equipment of the unit with the new model is expected to be completed by April 2015.
The HH-60M incorporates advanced technological improvements that include improved engines with increased power; an improved and more efficient rotor system, which increase lift by 800lbs (363kg); nose-mounted thermal imaging for search and rescue; and an all-digital avionics suite with a moving map, flight management system, glass cockpit with colour displays, storm scope and radio systems.
The helicopters also feature a built-in medical interior, which includes an integrated litter system capable of handling up to six patients and an integrated oxygen generating system for onboard patient care. The HH-60M’s ability to mount an external fuel system also adds an additional 400 gallons (1,514 litres) of fuel and increases its range by an additional hour and a half, allowing crews to respond to emergencies throughout the state without the delay of fuel stops. Alan Warnes