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The Future of Flying? Black Hawk Flies Without Pilot for the First Time

By Bill Carson  |  May 17, 2022

The Sikorsky Black Hawk UH-60 is the ideal air attack helicopter. Equipped with advanced technology, low detectability, missiles, machine guns, and more, it is a leading military aircraft. Sikorsky’s Black Hawk technology recently became even more advanced as the Black Hawk took its first flight without a pilot in February 2022.

Black Hawk’s Autonomous Flight

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky saw the first autonomous flight of their Black Hawk UH-60A on February 5, 2022, and again on February 7. Per a DARPA press release, the aircraft completed a 30-minute uninhabited flight over the U.S Army installation at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The Black Hawk was equipped with the DARPA Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS), which is an “extensible automation architecture for existing manned aircraft.” ALIAS will allow military flights to operate with reduced crews at any time and in any conditions.

The unmanned aircraft navigated from takeoff to landing, maneuvering through a virtual cityscape and re-routing in real time. Additionally, ALIAS is capable of identifying and averting potentially hazardous situations in all environments that range from good conditions to degraded visual conditions. ALIAS also allows for crews to navigate in missions when communications or other systems fail.

ALIAS and Black Hawk’s Autonomous Capability

Sikorsky’s MATRIX ™ architecture and software are the core of ALIAS operational capabilities. Going forward, the technology of MATRIX™ and ALIAS will advance the U.S. Army in a multitude of ways. It will allow pilots more flexibility in missions by reducing workload and increasing safety and efficiency. Pilots have the ability to switch the optionally piloted vehicle from piloted to automated at any point in flight.

The Future of Autonomous Flight

According to Lockheed Martin, “Sikorsky will continue to develop and transition its pilot-direct autonomy capabilities under Phase III of the DARPA ALIAS program through 2022.” Lockheed Martin will continue to invest in the development and testing of optionally manned aircrafts to support the mission.

To date, the following aircraft have flown with DARPA ALIAS technology:

  • Sikorsky S-76B (SARA)
  • Cessna 208 Caravan
  • Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk (OPV)

The History and Features of the Black Hawk Helicopter

Launched in the 1970s, the Sikorsky UH-60 has been used worldwide for assault missions. The Black Hawk is powered by two T700-GE-701D engines and reaches speeds of up to 163 mph. The Black Hawk is equipped with removable seats to allow for cargo transportation, or it can be loaded with eleven troops and two armed gunners. The new autonomous capabilities of the Black Hawk will ensure safe transport of cargo, as pilots will no longer be required to execute missions.

Parts and Maintenance for Black Hawk Assault Helicopters

Cutting Dynamics offers Sikorsky-approved replacement parts and maintenance kits for the Black Hawk UH-60. Utilizing Cutting Dynamics repair kits will result in decreased maintenance costs and improved aircraft cycle time. We offer parts for the following areas of the Black Hawk:

  • Cabin
  • Transition
  • Cockpit
  • Tail rotor pylon
  • Main rotor pylon
  • Tail cone

Choose Cutting Dynamics for Black Hawk Spare Parts

Cutting Dynamics has provided essential parts for military aircraft for over 30 years and is a trusted supplier of Black Hawk spare parts and phase kits.

Want to Learn More?

Our team at Re:Build Cutting Dynamics wants to ensure that all your questions regarding Patriot missile systems, our product line, and beyond have been answered. With that in mind, feel free to contact us today with any questions you may have, as we look forward to assisting you.