Surplus US UH-60s to Work Australia and NZ Fires, Disasters

By James T. McKenna | July 28, 2017
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A UH-60 Black Hawk, assigned to the 1/189th, B-Company, General Support Aviation Battalion, Nevada Army National Guard, carries a basket of water to a simulated fire during a training event geared to prepare for fire season at Alpine County Airport, Calf. May 15, 2017. The Nevada Division of Forestry teamed up with the Nevada National Guard to organize the event. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Walter H. Lowell)

A UH-60 Black Hawk with the Nevada Army National Guard carries a basket of water to a simulated fire during a training event at Alpine County Airport, California, May 2017. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army National Guard

Sikorsky will refurbish 10 surplus U.S. military UH-60 Black Hawks and outfit them for firefighting, disaster relief and other emergency services work in Australia and New Zealand under a new agreement with two Australian operators, parent company Lockheed Martin said.

The deal with Kaan Air Australia and StarFlight Australia, which the companies valued at about $50 million, calls for the Lockheed Martin unit to import the U.S. Black Hawks to Australia early next year and refurbish them to “as new” condition at its Sikorsky Australia facility in Pinkenba, a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland. The deal, which includes options for 10 more UH-60s, also calls for Sikorsky Helitech to maintain the helicopters.


The planned three-month refurbishment will include installation of more powerful General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, upgraded gearboxes and helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems and other new avionics.

Kaan Air Australia and StarFlight Australia are partnering to use the Black Hawks in fighting bushfires in Australia and New Zealand as well as year-round emergency services and disaster relief work. StarFlight, a joint venture set up in 2015 by Kaan Air Australia and LifeFlight Australia, will operate the Black Hawks.

“This is a game-changer for aviation in Australia,” said Kaan Air Australia and StarFlight Australia CEO, John Skeen, providing “efficient rotary-wing attack to reduce loss of life and property during bushfire events.”

Kaan Air Australia is a wholly owned division and partner of Kaan Air A.S., a multi-purpose company based in Istanbul that offers aviation and helicopter sales and rental, VIP transportation and air-taxi services. Part of the Basari Holdings group in Turkey, Kaan Air is an authorized distributor for AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters’ Kamov brand.

“We are very happy to be able to take part and contribute to the helicopter firefighting and disaster relief effort within Australia and further strengthen our ties with a very distinguished OEM, Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin,” Kaan Air Australia Chairman Ferda Yildiz said. “We aim to expand this cooperation beyond Australia in other parts of the world in similar projects using the expertise of our Australian company.”

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