The United Arab Emirates is set to turn a number of its Sikorsky Black Hawks into gunships in a deal with the U.S. helicopter maker worth nearly 1 billion Arab Emirate dirhams ($272 ).
The announcement of a plan to buy “weaponization” kits for 23 of its Black Hawk UH-60M helicopters was the pick of a 4 billion Arab Emirate dirham order bonanza unveiled by the UAE armed forces at the IDEX show Feb. 21 in Abu Dhabi.
Included in the list of 21 orders was a second deal with Sikorsky, this time a program to train Black Hawk pilots and technicians in a contract valued at 65 million Arab Emirate dirham.
The scheme to turn the UH-60M into an air assault machine gives the U.S. helicopter maker a launch customer for the Battle Hawk weaponization package it has been working on for some time now.
Information previously released by the company shows the weaponization package will give the UAE military a helicopter able to fire rockets, heavy-caliber machine guns and missiles from four weapon stations.
The bulk of the work will be undertaken by AMMROC, the maintenance, overhaul and repair center set up here last year in a joint venture between Sikorsky and a local company, Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies.
With further development work still needed on the weaponization package, sources said it was likely the first modified helicopters would be handed over to the UAE around 2014. The deal could be expanded later to cover further weaponization kits, the sources said.
UAE has long been tipped as a launch customer for the Battle Hawk package, but Sikorsky wasn’t the only helicopter manufacturer to benefit from new orders here.
AgustaWestland secured a 336 million Arab Emirate dirham order for the delivery of four AW139 rotorcraft for VIP duties.
Included in the list of contracts this time around is South Korean company Hanwha, which is supplying arms and ammunition; engines for unmanned air systems from Denel of South Africa; fire control systems for naval guns from Selex of Italy; munitions from Diehl BGT Defence of Germany; and bulletproof vests from local company Al Naboodah Protection.