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What is a Blackhawk Helicopter?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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A Blackhawk helicopter, more properly the UH-60 Black Hawk or Black Hawk, is a military helicopter designed to specifications provided by the United States government. In addition to the United States military, over 20 countries utilize Blackhawk helicopters in their operations worldwide, including Greece, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. This helicopter is probably most famous for its role in American combat operations in Mogadishu, Somalia, popularized in Black Hawk Down.

In the 1970s, the United States military became interested in replacing the famous UH-1 Iroquois or “Huey” helicopter, and it put a contract up for bid. The winner of the bid was Sikorsky Aircraft with its Blackhawk helicopter design, and the first model went into service in 1976, after extensive testing which included several prototype versions. The helicopter proved to be an extremely useful and versatile addition to the military's fleet of specialized aircraft, and orders for the Blackhawk quickly poured in from other nations.

This helicopter has a twin engine design, and a body which accommodates 11 fully outfitted troops, along with three crew members. The Blackhawk helicopter is designed for a variety of tasks, most of which center around providing support to combat operations. Troops can quickly be moved around on the battlefield with the aid of a Blackhawk, and the helicopters can also be used to provide aerial support, supply drops, and electronic warfare tactics. Blackhawk helicopters are also used to transport American state officials, including members of Congress and the President of the United States.

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Various versions of the helicopter have been devised for specific applications. The special forces uses its own version of the Blackhawk helicopter, and versions for emergency evacuation by medical personnel have also been developed. The all purpose Blackhawk helicopter can also be modified for specific support tasks. Like other military helicopters, this model carries an assortment of defensive and offensive tools, ranging from radar for spotting potential threats to Hellfire missiles which can be fired at opponents.

People sometimes get confused about the terminology of this aircraft, referring to it as the “Blackhawk helicopter.” Since two other popular Sikorsky models are the Seahawk and Superhawk, this confusion is certainly understandable. The news media will also occasionally misprint the proper term, adding to the general uncertainty about whether one word or two are involved. The helicopter's title reflects the long-standing tradition of naming military helicopters after notable Native Americans and Native American tribes.

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