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NEWS | April 13, 2022

West Virginia Guard unit receives 1st new medevac Black Hawk

By Edwin Wriston, West Virginia National Guard

WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard’s Company C, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, Aeromedical Evacuation Company, received its first of six new HH-60M “Mike” model Black Hawk helicopters April 12.

Built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the U.S. Army, the HH-60M supports aerial medical and ambulatory patient transport medevac services such as evacuating wounded troops from the battlefield in difficult weather day and night.

“The Mike model is a 30-year leap in technology with several improvements to existing Black Hawk designs,” said Lt. Col. Harold Nicely, state aviation officer.

“The new aircraft has a fully digitalized cockpit,“ he said. “Traditional gauges have been replaced by four multifunction displays for increased situational awareness. It is also fitted with dual digital flight control computer, moving map, storm scope and radio systems, and a GPS/inertial navigation system. All these features help to make the Mike model the most advanced military air ambulance helicopter platform in service.”

The HH-60M has two Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC)-equipped T700-GE-701E engines that increase horsepower, cruising speed, rate of climb, lift capacity and range. It is also equipped with an improved durability gearbox and newly designed composite rotor blades.

The Black Hawk comes with upgraded Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) and external hoist that makes it better suited than current UH-60L “Lima” helicopters for medevac, search and rescue and swift water rescue missions.

The helicopter can fly at an airspeed of 140.7 kilometers per hour with a range of 275.2 nautical miles. This range can be increased by mounting an external 400-gallon fuel system.

However, the most important new features of the HH-60M are inside the airframe. The upgraded interior includes a medical evacuation mission equipment package (MEP) kit and Integrated Vehicle Health Management System (IVHMS), making the helicopter a truly dedicated air ambulance. The helicopter has oxygen generation capability and a reconfigurable interior with litters to transport six patients and crew and flight medics.

While the primary mission of the HH-60M is medevac, it can also transport personnel and cargo and carry out search and rescue, resupply, aerial reconnaissance and wildfire suppression missions.

The HH-60M is manned by a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief and flight medic. It can accommodate up to 11 troops.

“The new HH-60M airframe increases our ability to support emergency response missions throughout West Virginia, the rest of the nation, and during overseas deployments,” said Maj. Ryan Wolfe, commander of Company C, 2-104th GASB. “This is the best aircraft the U.S. Army offers, and it tremendously enhances our capability to treat patients and fly safely in even the harshest of environments.”

The unit is to receive all six new helicopters within the next year. Pilots must take a six-week course to become certified on the new aircraft.