The Lithuanian Ministry of Defence has signed an agreement covering the purchase of four Sikorsky UH-60M Blackhawks with two options in a deal worth $213,000,000. The majority of the cost are maintenance, training, and the helicopters’ equipment. The Lithuanian government obtained additional funds for the purchase from the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program.
Earlier in July, the US Department of Defense agreed on the sale of the newest US helicopters. The Blackhawks will be equipped with M240H machine guns with the addition of 38,400 rounds. Besides that, Lithuanian UH-60M will be equipped with the FLIR Talon sensor, IHUD, AN/AVS-6 Night Observation Device. New aircraft will be also supplied with AN/AVR-2B laser detection system, AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System, IFF, GPS and Harris coded communication system.
The small, yet, very capable, fleet of Blackhawks is going to replace Lithuania’s Mi-8T helicopters that are at the end of their life cycle. The post-Soviet helicopters are over 30 years old and they will need to be retired as soon as possible. Lithuania is the second Baltic State to obtain UH-60. In 2018, Latvia signed an agreement worth 175,000,000 EUR for Blackhawks for their armed forces.
Lithuanian Blackhawks will serve alongside Airbus AS365 N3+ Dauphin helicopters. New aircraft are going to conduct Search And Rescue (SAR) operations and support the armed forces. The Lithuanian Army could not solely depend on Airbus helicopters as they are already conducting a number of SAR operations and surveillance over the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic states remain a key focus for the US and NATO as the region is of strategic importance on NATO’s eastern flank. Lithuanian forces seek modern solutions and improvements in order to deter possible Russian aggression. The exchange of old helicopters for new Blackhawks enhances Lithuania’s defensive and offensive capabilities and strengthens NATO’s presence in the region.