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FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, Aug 18, 2020

Capital District welcomes new National Guard helicopter fielding today in Latham

New York Army National Guard helicopter pilots, crews and Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. welcome the arrival of the first of 20 new UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters at their flight facilities...

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A NY National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter conducts training in Riverhead, N.Y. in June 2020.

LATHAM, NY (08/18/2020) (readMedia)-- New York Army National Guard helicopter pilots, crews and Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. welcome the arrival of the first of 20 new UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters at their flight facilities at Islip MacArthur and Albany International Airports Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

The two new aircraft, each arriving at the two facilities, represent the upgrade of the unit's fleet of aircraft.

WHAT: Arrival of the New York Army National Guard's newest aircraft, the UH-60M Black Hawk.

WHO: Members of the New York Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment welcome the first aircraft of their modernized fleet.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 18 at approximately 1 p.m.. Aircraft is expected to arrive at 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: New York Army Aviation Support Facility, 330 Old Niskayuna Road, Latham, N.Y. 12110

Media Availability: Imagery of the aircraft arrival and taxi to the Army National Guard facility. Interviews with aircrew members and a walk-around of the new aircraft. Media should contact the New York National Guard prior to arriving at the facility to confirm arrival times and availability. Contact Capt. Forest Thrush, (202) 657-8883 for specifics regarding the arrival time.

BACKGROUND

The fielding is part of the upgrade of the New York fleet of UH-60 helicopters from the L-model to the M-model, frequently referred to by their military designations, Lima model to the newer Mike model, said New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Jason Lefton, commander of the assault aviation battalion.

The fielding for New York represents more than $200 million for the aviation modernization program.

An additional 10 aircraft will be fielded to detachments of the battalion serving in the Connecticut and Maine Army National Guard.

The arrival of the aircraft, fresh from the Sikorsky factory, improves the unit's efficiency and effectiveness, noted Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Hansen, the senior instructor pilot in the battalion.

"The Mike model UH-60 Black Hawks are new, fresh from the factory upgrades to our current fleet, providing aircrews with the latest in the Army's inventory of aviation," Hansen said.

The UH-60M is the latest design for the Black Hawk helicopter and incorporates upgraded T700-GE-701D engines, improved rotor blades, a fly-by-wire glass cockpit, and improved flight controls and aircraft navigation. The aircraft provides 500 pounds of more lift capability from prior versions of the aircraft.

"These 20 aircraft will provide significant improvements in the Army National Guard's ability to safely execute missions both here in New York and around the world," Hansen said, "with improved lift capabilities, auto-pilot, ergonomic technology and state of the art digital cockpits."

Each aircraft is about $21.3 million, Hansen said.

More than 2,000 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter variants are in service with the U.S. military.

A significant improvement in the new aircraft will be its communications capabilities, Hansen said.

"One of the biggest upgrades is going to a fully digital cockpit," he said. "It will greatly enhance our ability to safely operate the aircraft in any environment. The situational awareness gained from digital moving maps, threat overlays and aircraft systems pages will help decrease some of the workload we have while operating the aircraft."

"Flying Army aircraft, especially on real world missions, is a high-intensity activity. Downstate New York is the busiest airspace in the world," Hansen noted. "The addition of two multiband radios will allow us to monitor and transmit on more than one Air Traffic Control frequency at a time, giving us a greater situational awareness. That was one of the biggest hindrances we have with the Lima model."

The battalion began preparations and training for the aircraft upgrade in 2018, Lefton said, sending pilots and crew chiefs for training on the new aircraft, qualifying a third of its crews even before the first airframe arrived in New York.

"The Mike model aircraft has been something we have been training for and our pilots, crew chiefs and maintainers have been working on this over the last two plus years," he said.

The arrival of these first two aircraft helps prepare the battalion for the arrival of a new fleet beginning in 2021.

"Our fielding window begins in January 2021 with all 30 aircraft delivered by December 2021," Hansen said.

Aircraft arrivals occurs over many months to allow for a sustainable maintenance flow for the scheduled work required for each aircraft.

"The amount of aircraft received each month varies from two to five aircraft," Hansen said. "It is important to stagger their arrivals so that our maintenance folks can work them into the current flow of maintenance. If we received all of them at the same time, most of the scheduled maintenance would occur at once or several aircraft would have to sit in order to spread the scheduled maintenance out."

Qualification training for pilots include a six-week transition course at either Fort Rucker, Alabama or the Eastern Army Aviation Training Site located at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

"Many of our newer aviators were qualified on the UH-60M during flight school and will require refresher training at our facilities," Hansen said. "Our enlisted crew chiefs and maintainers have the opportunity to attend formal Army training but can conduct the training 'in house.'"

The UH-60M aircraft are manufactured at the Sikorsky manufacturing plant in Stratford, Connecticut and complete the Army's test flights prior to acceptance and delivery at Sikorsky's post-production facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

"These new aircraft will add excitement and build on our top-tier retention," Lefton said. "Proficiency will be our issue. We need to fly and get everyone progressed and comfortable with the new systems."

Attachments:

A NY National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter conducts training in Riverhead, N.Y. in June 2020.

© NYS DMNA Press Release:Capital District welcomes new National Guard helicopter fielding today in Latham
URL: https://dmna.ny.gov/pressroom/?id=1598545578
Page Last Modified: Aug 18, 2020