The Colombian Army received special equiped Sikorksy S-70i Black Hawkhelicopters already in August, Sikorsky announced this week. These S-70s have a so-called Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (HTAWS) that has been customized by Sikorsky for what the company calls “unique requirements of the combat assault and utility missions”.
“HTAWS will give military operators 360-degree situational awareness in low visibility, day or night, and at altitudes as low as 75 feet,” says Jennifer Caruso, Sikorsky Vice President of Army and Air Force Programs.
Sikorsky delivered the two HTAWS-equipped S-70i helicopters to Colombian Army officials already on August 13 during a ceremony at the company’s Florida Assembly and Flight Operations facility in West Palm Beach, but for unclear reasons waited with the news release until now. A Colombian aircrew flew the two aircraft to the Army Special Operation Aviation Military base in Tolemaida, a distance of almost 3,000 nautical miles. The aircraft arrived August 29 after approximately 30 hours of flight.
Colombia is the first South American country to buy the S-70i variant of the Black Hawk helicopter. The two newbies joint five other S-70i helicopters in Colombia acquired in January.
Developed in collaboration with Sandel Avionics, the military HTAWS consists of a dedicated sunlight-readable display compatible with night vision goggles located in the center of the S-70i aircraft’s instrument panel. Integrated with the aircraft’s dual GPS/INS system and digital map, radar altimeter, heading system and air data computer, the system displays the GPS location, along with terrain, roads, obstacles and transmission lines. Audible warnings via the aircraft’s internal communications system alert the pilots to obstacles. Pilots can adjust the system to one of four sensitivity modes — Normal, Low, Tactical, and Obstacles Only — designed to reduce false alerts when missions call for flight operations at increasingly closer proximity to the ground.
In addition to HTAWS, the Colombian S-70i aircraft also come equipped with a rescue hoist, an Integrated Vehicle Health Management System that will monitor the aircrafts’ engines, transmission and rotors, as well as additional radios and other unique mission equipment. The contract includes ground support equipment, spares and technical training.
According to Sikorsky the S-70i has the same power and lift performance as the UH-60M Black Hawk, but have more possibilities to customize mission needs, for example to include radar, ballistic protection, medical litters, extended range fuel tanks, an external rescue hoist and a cargo hook.
Apart from the 7 Ejército Nacional de Colombia S-70i helicopters, the Colombian armed forces and national police operate 96 UH-60L Black Hawks as well.