Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, will provide five S-70 Black Hawk helicopters modified to perform aerial firefighting operations to United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods Corporation.
The bulk order will enable United Rotorcraft, as the only company authorized by Sikorsky to modify Black Hawk aircraft to the FIREHAWK configuration, to quickly deliver these new production aircraft for aerial firefighting in support of public agencies battling increasingly destructive wildland fires, Lockheed Martin said in a statement today.
Sikorsky will produce the five S-70 Black Hawk aircraft at Lockheed Martin’s PZL Mielec manufacturing line in Poland. Deliveries to United Rotorcraft’s 55,000+ square foot completions facility in Colorado are expected between early 2022 and mid-2023. The first aircraft received will be configured as a FIREHAWK helicopter for the State of Colorado, which announced its contract with United Rotorcraft on Aug. 16.
To modify a Black Hawk helicopter to the Firehawk configuration, United Rotorcraft installs and integrates a 1,000-gallon (3,785-liter) external water tank system to the aircraft’s belly. Fingertip controls allow pilots to drop the precise amount of water with high accuracy and refill the tank via a retractable snorkel in 60 seconds or less while hovering 10 feet over a water source. United Rotorcraft works hand in hand with public agencies to further customize the aircraft, as needed, from communications and navigation systems, to cabin interiors, transforming the FIREHAWK into a true multi-mission aircraft, with the ability to transport up to 12 firefighters, provide medical care on board, or perform search and rescue operations.
Thirteen S-70 FIREHAWK helicopters currently fighting fires across California are operated by CALFIRE, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and San Diego Fire Rescue Department. Five more contracted aircraft are on the way.