Updated December 21st, 2023 at 12:29 IST
U.S. Army mulls fleet optimization, plans to retire 157 Black Hawks to prioritize advanced choppers
The U.S. Army announces a 7.5% reduction in its UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter fleet, retiring 157 older models to pave the way for Future Assault Aircraft.
The U.S. Army is set to reduce its UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter fleet by nearly 8%, with plans to cut approximately 157 Black Hawks from its active-duty component. Major General Mac McCurry, commander of the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence, revealed that this move aims to optimize the current fleet while budgeting for the replacement, FLRAA, expected in the early 2030s.
Notably, the U.S. Army is trimming its UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter fleet by approximately 7.5%, amounting to around 157 helicopters. Major General Mac McCurry emphasized that this decision aligns with the Army's commitment to balancing current readiness while making room in the budget for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), set to replace the aging Black Hawks.
Prioritizing newer models and reducing overall fleet age
The U.S. Army's decision to cut 157 Black Hawk helicopters from its active-duty component focuses on retiring the oldest models, specifically Alpha and Lima variants. Major General Mac McCurry clarified that these retirements would not impact units actively deploying but rather target older models in "operational readiness floats," contributing to fleet optimization and reducing long-term maintenance challenges.
As part of its fleet reduction, the U.S. Army intends to sell the retired Black Hawk helicopters through Foreign Military Sales transactions or exchange and sales programs. Each aircraft is expected to fetch approximately $2 million. Major General Mac McCurry emphasized that this financial strategy aligns with the Army's overall plan to optimize resources while preparing for future acquisitions like the FLRAA.
Army to upgrade Mike-model Black Hawks
Despite the reduction in the Black Hawk fleet, the U.S. Army remains committed to upgrading its Mike-model helicopters, the latest variant in the Black Hawk series. Major General Mac McCurry highlighted the ongoing efforts to enhance the capabilities of the existing fleet, demonstrating the Army's dedication to maintaining a technologically advanced and efficient helicopter force.
In addition to the Black Hawk fleet reduction, the U.S. Army is planning to evaluate the size of its CH-47 Chinook cargo fleet. Major General Mac McCurry emphasized the importance of aligning the fleet with the overall force structure and end strength. This strategic review reflects the Army's commitment to optimizing its aviation assets for future operational requirements.
While conducting reviews of helicopter fleets, the U.S. Army has excluded the AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the current evaluation. Major General Mac McCurry explained that the Army is still grappling with shortages of AH-64s, emphasizing the need to maintain and potentially augment the current fleet to address operational requirements.
Published December 21st, 2023 at 12:29 IST
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