July 20, 2012: The U.S. Army and Navy have ordered 653 Blackhawk and Seahawk helicopters. This will cost $8.5 billion and cover five years of deliveries. The contract also allows ordering up to 263 additional helicopters at the same price per aircraft, if an emergency arose. Both the Blackhawk and Seahawk are variants of the basic S-60 design. The army will be receiving UH-60M transport and HH-60M medical helicopters while the navy will receive MH-60R and MH-60S models. The export version of S-60 is the S-70.
The U.S. Army and Navy have increasingly convinced Congress to allow the services to jointly buy large quantities of items both need and do this for items that will be delivered over several years. In the past the military services tended to purchase year by year. Buying smaller quantities, annually, drove up the cost of each item.
All these helicopters (UH-60, HH-60, MH-60) are militarized versions of the Sikorsky S-70, a 1970s design that won the competition to replace the older UH-1 "Huey". The army currently has about 2,000 UH-60s and is upgrading the force with the new "M" model. So far, about 2,800 UH-60s have been built.
The UH-60 was introduced in 1979. The 11 ton UH-60M can carry 14 troops, or 1.1 tons of cargo internally, or four tons slung underneath. Cruise speed is 278 kilometers an hour. Max endurance is two hours, although most sorties last 90 minutes or less. Max altitude is 5,790 meters (19,000 feet).