The U.S. Army plans to get rid of all its UH-60 Alpha-model Black Hawks from the National Guard by fiscal year 2022 and the active-duty force by 2024, Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski said during an April 2 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
In response to a question by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ostrowski, director of the Army Acquisition Corps, said Army Secretary Mark Esper has “made it very clear that what we’re going to do it by FY22 that all the Alpha models will be outside the National Guard, so they’ll be either Limas, Victors, or Mike-model aircraft in the National Guard,” referring to more-modern versions of the multiimission helicopter.
“By 2024, all the Alpha-model aircraft will be out of the active-duty forces as well,” Ostrowski added at the SASC Tactical AirLand subcommittee hearing.
The Army is in the process of divesting its old A-model Black Hawks through the Black Hawk Exchange and Sales Team (BEST) Program, where they are stripped of military materiel and sold in the civilian space, generating revenue for the Army.
The UH-60L, which entered service more than twenty years after the original A-model Black Hawks, improved upon the original aircraft with a hover IR suppression system, more powerful engines and greater external load capacity.
“Going forward, the intent is also to convert all of the Lima aircraft to Victor models as well,” Ostrowski said. “Between Mikes and Victors, in the 2030s we will have transitioned both the active-duty as well as the National Guard to either Victor or Mike models within our Army.”
The UH-60M and V-models are modern, digital Black Hawk variants compared to the analogue Limas and Alphas. The UH-60M entered service in 2006 and the V-model — developed to provide a cost-effective upgrade to the Lima comparable in capability to the M-model — is still under development. Both newer models feature a glass cockpit, digital pilot-vehicle interface and open architecture avionics for quick systems integration.
The Army plans to convert its 720 Lima-model Black Hawks to Victor-models at a rate of 48 per year.