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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2021

Army unveils new Black Hawk variant at Fort Indiantown Gap

By Brad Rhen, Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – The U.S. Army unveiled the newest variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, the UH-60V, during a ceremony Oct. 6 at the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site.

EAATS received six UH-60Vs from the Utility Helicopter Program Office in late July. Since then, the school’s instructor pilots have been training on the new variant as they prepare to train other students.

“The ‘Victor’ model will extend the Army’s capability and capacity to meet the demands placed on the joint force,” Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania adjutant general, said at the ceremony. “Additionally, the model will ensure national security and support warfighters now and well into the future.”

EAATS, adjacent to Fort Indiantown Gap’s Muir Army Airfield, was the first unit in the Army – active-duty, National Guard or Army Reserve – to receive the new variant.

Schindler said he is extremely excited and proud that EAATS was chosen to be the first unit equipped with the UH-60V.

“It’s fitting that our location was chosen to begin UH-60 Victor training,” he said. “The EAATS is an accomplished organization, proving time and time again to be a force multiplier for all components of the U.S. Army and our multinational partners, unmatched in the Army enterprise.”

The UH-60V was developed to overhaul the aging UH-60A and L fleets. It includes an upgraded digital glass cockpit, certified GPS RNAV database and advanced flight planning and mission capability.

Brig. Gen. Robert Barrie, the Army’s program officer-aviation, said the UH-60V represents the Army’s first real opportunity to upgrade its helicopter platforms apart from their original manufacturers.

“In order for us to bring capability onto this platform, it necessitated a significant investment both in dollars and time,” Barrie said. “And because our threat is evolving faster than we are, and because our dollars are limited, it was absolutely essential that we find a way to bring capability onto our platforms more affordably and more rapidly, and that’s what this platform is the first of our ability to do.”

Brig. Gen. Stanley Budraitis, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, said the importance of the UH-60V program cannot be overstated.

“Although early engagement in the design process enabled incorporation of state missions into the 60 Victor, have no doubt the 60 Victor is purpose-built as a go-to-war aircraft, an aircraft capable of operating on any battlefield against any adversary,” Budraitis said.

EAATS has collaborated with numerous organizations to develop a training package for the UH-60V, including the National Guard Bureau, the UHPO, the Directorate of Evaluations and Standardization, Army Capabilities Manager-Lift, the Directorate of Training and Doctrine, and Army Test and Evaluation Command.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jake Russell, a test pilot and instructor pilot for EAATS, said the UH-60V provides a modernized aviation platform to address the ever-changing needs of the Army’s utility helicopter mission.

“The UH-60V’s digital cockpit provides Army aviators increased situational awareness across a wide spectrum,” said Russell, who has 21 years of experience as a Black Hawk pilot. “Whether using the GPS navigation capability in the national airspace system or flying tactical routes in the battlespace, the UH-60V’s integrated avionics package provides the necessary information for safe and efficient mission execution.”

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Frank Madeira, a standardization pilot and instrument evaluator at EAATS, said the UH-60V provides a lower cost all-digital modernized avionics architecture to the legacy cockpit of UH60L.

“This modernized PVI (pilot vehicle interface) will be a force multiplier for the National Guard in its capabilities to support the full spectrum of warfighters across the digital integrated joint battlefield,” said Madeira, who has 18 years of experience as a Black Hawk pilot.

Founded in 1981, EAATS conducts individual aviator qualification training, enlisted aviation training and noncommissioned officer professional development, focusing on UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. It trains Soldiers from the Army National Guard, Active-Duty Army and Army Reserve and foreign militaries.

In the recently concluded 2021 fiscal year, EAATS provided training for about 180 pilots and about 630 enlisted Soldiers.

Lt. Col. Randy Lutz, commander of EAATS, said it is an honor and a privilege for EAATS to be selected as the first unit equipped and serve as the initial UH-60V training site for both the active component and the Army National Guard.

“The EAATS is a renowned training institution of excellence, and it’s no surprise that the aviation enterprise has selected the EAATS to spearhead this initiative,” Lutz said.