Saudi Arabia Wants More Blackhawks

At the end of March Sikorsky Aircraft won a contract worth $100 million for the delivery of 25 UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters that will be delivered to the Saudi Arabian National Guards. Since 2017 Saudi Arabia has already purchased 40 UH-60M Blackhawks and 75 HH-60M helicopters.

The UH-60M is a utility helicopter produced by the Sikorsky Aircraft Company, part of Lockheed Martin. It is equipped with the powerful T700-GE-701D engine, capable of lifting 22,000 lb in the “slick” configuration. It can accommodate a crew of 4 with the additional 12 troops in the transport compartment. The integrated digital cockpit with Integrated Vehicle Health Management System (IVHMS) with Crash Survivable Memory Unit (CSMU) delivers a comfortable workspace for the pilot. The Saudi purchase is in fact an extension of the UH-60 2017-2018 procurement program.

Previously some of the UH-60M helicopters were delivered to the Special Operation Forces of Saudi Arabia. The new contract focuses on the aircraft to be delivered solely to the National Guard.

Saudi Arabia is the largest recipient of US armaments, with sales reaching a record high in 2020. Yet, with the change of the administration in the White House, the majority of the arms sales were dropped due to the Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen.

The purchase of additional helicopters from the US in spite of the White House recent decisions is interesting. With the conflict in Yemen ongoing the Saudis still need significant amounts of new equipment. The long term impact of the Biden administration’s decision to halt some arms and equipment sales to Saudi Arabia remains to be seen.