Sikorsky, United Rotorcraft prepare for S-70™ FIREHAWK® helicopter demand

A FIREHAWK aircraft operated by CAL FIRE demonstrates the high pressure and concentration of water released from its 1,000-gallon tank for effective wildfire fighting ©Lockheed Martin

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, and United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods Corporation, have signed a marketing teaming agreement that formalises how both companies will collaborate to meet growing global interest in the S-70™ FIREHAWK® helicopter. The agreement will enable the team to identify demand and more quickly build and configure new production FIREHAWK helicopters for government agencies worldwide that require a highly effective solution to attack increasingly deadly wildland fires.  

The agreement will allow United Rotorcraft to contract for bulk orders of S-70 Black Hawk® aircraft, much as it did in August 2021 with an initial five-aircraft order from Sikorsky. Four of the five aircraft will arrive at United Rotorcraft’s Englewood, Colorado completions facility this year from the S-70 production line at PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin company in Poland. The first aircraft of the bulk order will be modified to the FIREHAWK configuration for delivery in 2023 to the State of Colorado.

An S-70 BLACK HAWK aircraft becomes a FIREHAWK helicopter when United Rotorcraft adds a 1,000-gallon (3,785-litre) water tank system, a raised landing gear (to accommodate the tank) and associated integrated avionics, a process that typically takes six months. United Rotorcraft has been the FIREHAWK completion teammate of Sikorsky since the late 1990s working closely with Sikorsky and first customer the County of Los Angeles Fire Department, which today operates two S-70i™ and three S-70A™ FIREHAWK aircraft. Other operators include CAL FIRE and the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue.

United Rotorcraft recently introduced a digital control mode that gives either pilot greater control of water released to suit the type of fire, and in 2023 will offer both the currently available aluminium tank and a new lightweight, composite tank option.

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