When Sikorsky was owned by United Technologies Corporation, “there was a policy when part of [UTC] that prevented Sikorsky from internally arming a Black Hawk,” Villa said. “That has since gone away.”
Lockheed Martin bought Sikorsky from UTC last year.
And while Sikorsky could not arm Black Hawks, Lockheed Martin has, for example, done integration work to weaponize Sea Hawks, the US Navy’s version of the helicopter.
Now that Sikorsky and Lockheed are one in the same, each company brings experience that will move the dial toward a more seamless process to arm Black Hawks.
“Now we can be a one-stop shop,” Villa added.
Sikorsky and Lockheed are working together on several versions of an armed Black Hawk. The Black Hawk on display in Poland is just one possible configuration designed by the team, according to Villa.
Villa emphasized the configurations are weapons agnostic and in the case of Poland, it was likely armed with NATO standard weapons like Lockheed's Hellfire missile. “It’s supposed to be a representation of what can be done. To even get into what’s on it right now is immaterial. That we can do it is what is being highlighted,” he added.
The display in Poland marks the first time Sikorsky and Lockheed have debuted an armed Black Hawk concept. The same helicopter will make another European cameo at the Farnborough Air Show in England next month.
Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin see a promising market for armed Black Hawks in the region. “The entire region right now is in need of helicopters because of the aging Russian fleet,” Villa said. “The majority of these former Warsaw Pact countries fly Mi-24s, which is, essentially, an armed small utility aircraft so the countries in the region are looking to fill that gap that is being opened up.”
Additionally, there are countries that may want a utility aircraft and an armed aircraft but, don’t have the budget to buy two exclusive platforms for a utility and attack helicopter. Sikorsky sees an armed Black Hawk as a good solution to meet those requirements within smaller budgets.