November 5, 2010: Saudi Arabia is buying 72 American UH-60M transport helicopters. Earlier this year, the Saudis began upgrading its existing 29 UH-60A Blackhawk helicopters to the UH-60L standard. This involves installing a more powerful engine and better flight controls. The L model is thus more powerful, easier and safer to fly and easier to maintain. Currently, the U.S. Army is introducing the M model. The last major upgrade of the Blackhawk before that was in the late 1980s, when the UH-60L was introduced. The M version, which will cost about six million dollars each, will make the 11 ton UH-60 viable into the 2020s.
The UH-60M features several improvements, including new rotor blades (more reliable, and provide 227 kg/500 pounds of additional lift), an all electronic cockpit (putting all needed information on four full-color displays), an improved autopilot (which will fly the chopper if the pilot is injured and unable to), improved flight controls (making flying easier, especially in stressful situations), a stronger fuselage, more efficient navigation system, better infrared suppression (making it harder for heat seeking missiles to hit), and more powerful engines. The older UH-60As, will continue to serve until the last of them is retired in 2025. By then, all UH-60s will be L or M models. It was only three years ago that the army finished testing the new M version of the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, and began mass production. Over 900 will be produced and the U.S. Army has already received over a hundred.