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US will test an unmanned version of Black Hawk helicopter with voice commands

WASHINGTON, (BM) – With each passing day, the military society is changing and realizing the need to use drones in all areas of military affairs.

Read more: First photos of Australian stealth unmanned multi-role fighter have appeared

After announcing at the beginning of the year that the Russians had tested unmanned mode on a prototype of the Su-57, today BulgarianMilitary.com learned that next year the US military will begin unmanned tests of the legendary attacking helicopter UH-60A Black Hawk.

According to information spread in the Russian and American media, the tests will have to be conducted in three stages to clarify the different capabilities of the helicopter in unmanned mode, as well as the possibility in the future of such helicopters to fly and perform combat missions in different formations. Sources also say that one of the three tests will involve an unmanned landing on a small platform.

Dozens of military experts are analyzing the actions of the military around the world related to the conversion of existing aircraft into drones. One of the main reasons, according to experts, is the shortage of pilots and the significant extension of the service life of a single combat vehicle. But the more important reason is the ability to fight and win battles in the future with reduced use of soldiers. We last saw similar actions in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, where the Azerbaijani military converted old agricultural planes into kamikaze attacking drones.

According to Pentagon sources, next year the United States will test the S-76B Spirit, as well as two UH-60A Black Hawks, which will be specially equipped for testing with specialized military systems for remote control of aircraft, turning them into real unmanned aerial vehicles.

Sources from the company that manufactures the UH-60A Black Hawks – Sikorsky, reveal more information about the upcoming tests and especially about the software used. To achieve unmanned helicopter mode, the military will use the Matrix software. This is a small and simple container that only needs to be connected to the control line of the helicopter to turn it into an unmanned vehicle. The matrix has three main modes of operation: completely unmanned mode without the participation of an operator, mode with the participation of one operator and mode with the participation of two operators.

Read more: Top 5 best military attack helicopters in service in the world

Experts from the manufacturer claim that the integration of the Matrix software in the control line of the helicopter will take no more than an hour and so much to teach the operator to handle the software properly. It is also clear from the additional explanation of the specialists from Sikorski that the software allows the control of a helicopter with voice commands, among which – takeoff, reversal, hold, landing and others.

MRH 90 Taipan failed – Australia wants back Black Hawks helicopters

As we reported in October this year Australia sent a request for quotation regarding the price and availability of helicopters for special forces Sikorsky HH-60W or MH-60M Black Hawk under the FMS program.

This decision indicates that the currently used MRH90 Taipan [local designation NH90] delivered to special forces last year did not meet their needs. These machines replaced the age old Sikorsky S-70A Black Hawk in the 6th Aviation Regiment.

Currently, the 6th Aviation Regiment is carrying out tasks supporting the activities of the Australian Army Special Operations Command with the use of 12 MRH90 helicopters adapted to this type of operation, which, after modification and major repairs, were delivered to this unit last year.

The first two helicopters were delivered on February 1, 2019 and in the following months they successively replaced the last S-70A Black Hawk helicopters in the Australian army. The goal was to unify the Australian Defense Forces’ helicopter fleet, which in 2006 decided to acquire 34 MRH90 Taipan machines to replace both the Black Hawks and the Navy’s Westland Sea King machines.

The willingness to buy the Sikorsky MH-60M machines or the newest HH-60W machines is due to the negative assessment of the 6 Avn personnel of the MRH90 machines in the role of support for special forces. Although the machines have a greater range, speed, payload and flight duration than the Black Hawks, there were problems with interoperability with allied forces and issues such as the appropriate attachment of weapons for side shooters or rope landing systems.

The possible purchase of a version of the Black Hawk helicopter intended for special forces is not only a return to the 2018 concept, when instead of the adapted MRH90, the purchase of new MH-60M was planned. Together with the expected decision to purchase the Boeing AH-64E Apache attack machines by Australia, this is a clear shift towards the US, both in terms of purchasing and increasing interoperability, which may be associated with mounting pressure in the region from China.

Read more: Black Hawk helicopter with U.S. Marines aboard has been shot down in Afghanistan

It is also not without significance that Australia can count on the latest HH-60W helicopters as an important ally in the region in the event of such purchases. Based on the UH-60M / V Black Hawk, the most modern one used by the US Army, the airframes are yet to be used by US Special Forces. Currently, the last phases of flight tests and weapon certification are being carried out.

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